As a writer, I'm more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.
People aren't quite sure what it means when a book is a Booker Prize winner. They're not quite sure what is being recommended, what literary values it stands for, because every year it stands for something different.
I felt slightly superior to student politics, for instance. I had no reason to think this, but I thought of myself as slightly more seasoned. I became quite cynical talking to my student friends.
The book was at a reasonably high position on the New York Times... before I was in the country. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see if my presence here would push it up or down.
There are things I am more interested in than the clone thing. How are they trying to find their place in the world and make sense of their lives? To what extent can they transcend their fate? As time starts to run out, what are the things that really matter?
If you look at my last songs and first short stories, there is a real connection between them.
My friends and I took songwriting very, very seriously. My hero was and still is Bob Dylan, but also people like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell and that whole generation.
Now when I look back to the Guildford of that time, it seems far more exotic to me than Nagasaki.
People were incredibly kind to our family and went out of their way to help.
When I got to 40 or so... I had the sense when I looked back over my life I would actually see a mess of decisions, a few of which I had thought about, some of which I had sort of stumbled on, and many that I had no control over whatsoever.
The world is crawling with authors touring now. They're like performance artists.
I think I had actually served my apprenticeship as a writer of fiction by writing all those songs. I had already been through phases of autobiographical or experimental stuff.
I don't really like to work with literary allusions very much. I never want to be in a position where I'm saying, "You've got to read a lot of other stuff" or "You've got to have had a good education in literature to fully appreciate what I'm doing."
What is difficult is the promotion, balancing the public side of a writer's life with the writing. I think that's something a lot of writers are having to face. Writers have become much more public now.
I couldn't speak Japanese very well, passport regulations were changing, I felt British and my future was in Britain. And it would also make me eligible for literary awards. But I still think I'm regarded as one of their own in Japan.
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