Sell us on your favorite overlooked or underappreciated writer.
G. K. Chesterton. These days recognized — that is if he is recognized at all — as the man who wrote the Father Brown stories. My grandmother actually knew him quite well and pointed out that she herself lived on Chesterton Green in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, here in the U.K. And the man was so well venerated that on one memorable occasion, he was late in sending a piece to The Strand Magazine and a railway train actually waited at the local station until Mr. Chesterton had finished writing his piece. When she told me that, I thought, Blimey, now that is celebrity.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? And the prime minister?
Well, it would have to be The Man Who Was Thursday. It’s a damn good read that I believe should be read by everyone in politics.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Mark Twain, G. K. Chesterton and Neil Gaiman, because he’s a mate who knows how to order the most excellent sushi.
The whole interview is worth a read; it’s not long, but it brings in Tolkien, Kenneth Grahame, and an old joke that Chesterton himself once used.
I confess I’ve never read one of Pratchett’s books, but on this evidence perhaps I ought to do so. That he would bring Neil Gaiman to dinner with Chesterton and Twain is not surprising: Pratchett and Gaiman co-authored a book some years ago called Good Omens and they dedicated it to Chesterton, “a man who knew what was going on”. Indeed, he did.