Meg Wolitzer is the author of several acclaimed novels, most recently The Wife, The Position, The Uncoupling and The Interestings, which has been praised for its warmth, emotional depth and keen observation. She fills us in on her reading and writing (and eating) habits and flags up a few enduring literary favourites.
Where are you now?
In the living room of my apartment in New York City.
Where and when do you do most of your writing?
In the bedroom, but sometimes at a library, or in a coffee shop.
Full-time or part-time?
Pen or keyboard?
Keyboard, except during revisions, when I take pen to typed page, and write in the margins.
How do you relax when you’re writing?
As of this very day, yoga. But also chocolate.
How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?
The Interestings is a novel about what happens to talent over time. It’s also about friendship, and the envy you feel for people you love.
Who do you share your work-in-progress with?
One or two close friends, my mother, and my editor.
Which literary character do you wish you created?
Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
“Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’ Let us go and make our visit.”
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
Which book do you wish you’d written?
To the Lighthouse.
Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St Aubyn. Also The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante.
What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
Many, many novels.
Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
All of Proust.
Which book/s do you treasure the most?
My childhood edition of Charlotte’s Web, and a collection of Flaubert’s letters that I won as a prize for a college essay, which was not about Flaubert, and whose topic escapes me.
What is the last work you read in translation?
Elena Ferrante’s masterful The Days of Abandonment.
Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
Birds of America by Lorrie Moore, Collected Stories by John Cheever, any collection of Chekhov.
What will you read next?
The first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s novel (A Death in the Family).
What are you working on next?
Another long novel.
Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
The Fitzgeralds, though they would be impatient and soon leave for a far cooler party…
If you weren’t writing you’d be…?
Eating. Or, if you mean if I weren’t a writer… I’d be a psychiatrist.
On a warm July night in 1974 six teenagers play at being cool. The friendships they make this summer will be the most important and consuming of their lives. In a teepee at summer camp they smoke pot and drink vodka & Tangs, talk of Günter Grass and the latest cassette tapes; they also share their dreams and ambitions, still so fresh and so possible.
But decades later not everyone can sustain in adulthood what had seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, has resigned herself to a more practical occupation; Cathy has stopped dancing; Jonah has laid down his guitar and taken up engineering. Only Ethan’s talent has endured. As their fortunes tilt precipitously over the years, some of them dealing with great struggle, others enjoying extraordinary wealth and success, friendships are put under the strain of envy and crushing disappointment.
Against the backdrop of a changing America, from Nixon’s resignation to Obama’s new world, Wolitzer’s panoramic tragicomedy asks how ‘the Interestings’ can be happy with being anything less than brilliant?
“This is a wonderful book. Intelligent and subtle, it is exquisitely written with enormous warmth and depth of emotion… Wolitzer is an affectionate and clear-sighted observer of human nature.”