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Jenni Fagan | My Writing Playlist
Best of Young British Novelist Jenni Fagan selects five songs that she loves to write to.
Kwangju and After
‘Some people said they were not ‘with’ the students. They were not in favour of the use of arms. But they were of one voice in saying that the students were their sons, and that if the army came in the students would be put to death. That was why they kept saying: “Tell the truth about us.”’
The Snap Revolution (Part One: The Snap Election)
‘It was the Cuba of the future. It was going the way of Iran. It was another Nicaragua, another Cambodia, another Vietnam.’
The Snap Revolution (Part Two: The Narrow Road to the Solid North)
‘Most of his life has been spent under Marcos's rule, and his habit of thought was to doubt the story as presented in, say, the newspaper, and to try to guess the story behind the story.’
The Snap Revolution (Part Three: The Snap Revolution)
‘Late that night Marcos came on the television again, and whereas in the previous press conference he had maintained a gelid calm, now he was angry and almost out of control.’
The Fall of Saigon
‘I wanted to see Vietnam for myself. I wanted to see a war, and I wanted to see a communist victory, which I presumed to be inevitable. I wanted to see the fall of a city.’
Cambodia and Someth May
‘When I first saw the draft of the piece which follows, I realized that the book he was writing had reached an essential stage of articulacy.’
Road to Cambodia
‘The buildings were full of surprises. In one, surrounded by winking lights, the last abbot was lying in his coffin. He had died a year before, and it would be another two years before he was cremated.’
Let There Be Light!
A secular psychiatrist encounters the deeply religious in Brooklyn with unorthodox results.
The Snow Geese
‘Are these great journeys examples of learned or inherited behaviour?’
‘We talked a lot about voice – the idea that everyone has a voice, their own voice, and this is something to be valued and celebrated.’
Burying the Bones
’There are times when every nation needs to think a little less about its history.‘
The Silent Majority of Cape Town
‘Next to Mandela sat Allan Boesak, the ANC candidate for premier of the Western Cape province. Great is thy faithfulness, indeed, I thought.’
‘His room is as he left it, furnished with a carpet, a spinning wheel, a low white table, a mattress and cushion.’
‘The nun beside me on the helicopter this morning had a tight, self-righteous face.’
‘Back in 1976 when I was sixteen, my uncle, the novelist Edmund White, rescued me from the messy aftermath of my parents' divorce and brought me to live with him in New York’.
El Salvador: An Aide-Mémoire
‘Between 1978 and 1981 I travelled between the United States and Salvador, writing reports on the war waiting to happen, drawing blueprints from memory, naming the dead.’
Where Does Writing Come From?
‘Occasionally if pushed or annoyed I'll come right out and say it: I make these little buggers up, that's what. So sue me’.
‘Jack Nicholson, I've heard, used to own one. And I understand why.’
‘What happened in 1979 has happened many times before and many times since, in places where people have set themselves free and believed with all their hearts that the freedom they had fought for was real and lasting, only to be recaptured.’
The Last Vet
‘Jalloh likes to keep accurate records of such things. After all, nobody else does.’
‘The thrill of this film – and it is thrilling – is seeing that understood and played out by actors of incredible skill.’
Forklift Truck Driver Wins Literary Prize!
‘There are two options for the young writer and employment. There is the proper job, whatever it might be – law, advertising, medicine or the default choice for many, academia. Or there’s the menial, rent-paying job.’
The French Lieutenant’s Diary
‘It was really just one visual idea: a woman standing at the end of the Cobb and staring mysteriously out to sea.’
Shackleton’s Medical Kit
‘Each box was like the distillation of all that we have learned as a species about our bodies and their infirmities, a time capsule of medicine at the start of the twenty-first century.’
The Third Pole
‘I came to the Himalayas not because of a dream of mountains or of animals, but because of a map.’
Dreams of Reason
‘We know that nightmares are unreal, yet they torment us all the same.’
‘'Hey, I saw an Inuk once with a hat that said: INSTANT ASSHOLE. JUST ADD ALCOHOL'.’
Introduction: Best of Young British Novelists 4
‘We live in unreaderly times, but our belief is that these novelists will be exceptions to the general rule of irrelevance faced by writers today.’