Longlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize, David Grossman is the author of More Than I Love My Life.
In 2017, he was awarded the International Booker Prize for A Horse Walks into a Bar. Here, the author reveals how a terrifying experience on a remote Norwegian archipelago informed his work while reminiscing about his childhood bedtime stories with his father.
How does it feel to be longlisted for the International Booker Prize?
Almost as good as being shortlisted.
What first inspired you to write More Than I Love My Life?
What first inspired me was when it became clear that the woman who told me her life story allowed me also to imagine and invent her.
What’s your earliest reading memory?
I am three or four years old, I’m in bed, my father is reading a goodnight story to me. I do not remember now which book it was, but I vividly remember that I looked at my father’s face and suddenly I could see the child he used to be.
In order to write this book, I spent some days in the little village called Svalbard. In the mountains surrounding the village roam thousands of polar bears.
What authors have made the biggest impact to your work?
The Jewish author Shalom Aleichem; Amos Oz; Thomas Mann (with The Magic Mountain) and Virginia Woolf (with To the Lighthouse).
Tell us a lesser-known fact about the book.
In order to write this book, I spent some days in the little village called Svalbard in the far north of the globe. In the mountains surrounding the village roam thousands of polar bears. In some places one has to go with an armed escort, or with a gun. At midnight, when I started my way back from the local pub to my hotel I walked alone and without a gun. The feeling of claws tearing the skin of my back was so tangible and real that suddenly I knew for sure that I would write the book.
Tell us about a book that changed your life.
Cinnamon Shops by Bruno Schulz. When I finished reading it I learnt that Schulz had been murdered by the Nazis. I then felt the desire to write a book that would be as vital and full of life as one-millionth part of the life of Schulz. With the ambition of a very young writer, I told my wife, ‘I want to write a book that will quiver on the shelf’. I think knew then that I wanted to be a writer.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
‘After a good siesta you’ll be able to erase more easily what you wrote in the morning.’