Aatif Rashid

“There are certain writers whose prose is so deft and beautiful that reading them can inspire whatever I happen to be working on, even if the style, setting, or genre are completely different. One is Thomas Pynchon, whose prose I’ve been obsessed with ever since I discovered his 1966 novel The Crying of Lot 49. I’ll often go back to the first paragraph of that book to remind myself that it’s possible to write something complex, lyrical, and full of specific detail, but also something that’s funny and that really moves. Hilary Mantel is another such writer. Her Man Booker Prize–winning novel Wolf Hall has a remarkable way of fusing sensory detail with Thomas Cromwell’s perspective, as well as shifting from free indirect discourse to authorial commentary. Ultimately, I think it comes down to rereading the classics (or whatever you consider to be a ‘classic’). With contemporary literature, you can get caught up in debates over the style that’s in vogue at the moment, ‘spare prose’ or ‘hysterical realism’ or whatever. I go back to the prose that I know will always bring me what I need to keep writing, no matter what era we’re living in.”
—Aatif Rashid, author of Portrait of Sebastian Khan (7.13 Books, 2019)

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  • August 15, 2019