Being a writer by trade and a reader by nature, people often ask me, “Who’s your favourite writer?”
I’m suspicious of anyone who has a ready answer to that question.
Because, of course, it depends.
It depends on my mood, what I’ve just read, what I’m reading next, the day, the weather, the light, the season. It depends.
I’m discovering new favourites all the time – Marlon James, Ann Patchett, Maggie O’Farrell, Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright, Daniel Polansky, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Alongside the old reliables – Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, George Orwell, CS Lewis.
And authors change from book to book.
You can pick up a Hilary Mantel in the 90s and abandon it in disgust, but forgive her a decade later when Wolf Hall hits the shelves.
Then there’s the genre. Do you pick your favourite novelist at the expense of your favourite poet?
Brushing aside TS Eliot, Harry Clifton, Seamus Heaney, Leontia Flynn, AE Housmann, Robert Frost, Lisel Mueller, Clive James?
What about personal essays, internet longreads, the columnist in your local newspaper and the friend who faithfully emails?
With so much quality writing around, it’s a feast of favourites.