Lewis DeSoto was born in South Africa and immigrated to Canada as a teenager in the 1960s. There, he trained as a painter rather than a writer and remains more active with the brush than the pen.
A Blade of Grass, DeSoto’s debut novel, is a tale of two women’s travails in apartheid-era South Africa. He chose women protagonists, he has said, because he wanted to challenge himself and didn’t want to rely ‘on my own psychology’. He has also admitted to ambivalent feelings about fiction writing and the way that ‘once your solitary, private thoughts are committed to paper, and published, anyone can look at them and talk about them and ask you about them’. The appeal of painting is that it is another form of confession, but less obviously interpretable.