A stellar host of writers explore the cornerstone of fiction writing: character
The Book of Other People is about character. Twenty-five or so outstanding writers have been asked by Zadie Smith to make up a fictional character. By any measure, creating character is at the heart of the fictional enterprise, and this book concentrates on writers who share a talent for making something recognizably human out of words (and, in the case of the graphic novelists, pictures). But the purpose of the book is variety: straight "realism"-if such a thing exists-is not the point. There are as many ways to create character as there are writers, and this anthology features a rich assortment of exceptional examples.
The writers featured in The Book of Other People include:
Chris Ware, and more
Read Zadie Smith’s newest novel, Swing Time.
"The instruction was simple: make somebody up," explains novelist Smith in her introduction to this marvelous compendium of 23 distinct, pungent stories that attack the question of "character" from all angles. From David Mitchell's hilarious rendering of one menopausal woman's fantasy internet love-affair to ZZ Packer's heart-wrenching Jewish guy-black girl romance, each story is, as Smith puts it, "its own thing entirely." There are moments of prosaic precision (Andrew O'Hagan's eerily incisive "Gordon" is introduced "in the talcum-powdered air of the bathroom muttering calculations and strange moral sums about the cause of Hamlet's unhappiness"), but this volume is more than a showcase for deft prose and quirky souls. Toby Litt's lovely, lyrical "Monster," for example, playfully upends notions of personhood, as does Dave Eggers' surprising "Theo," a moving tale of a mountain who falls in love. Also on hand are a number of wonderful graphic shorts: Daniel Clowe shrewdly explores an insufferable critic's solipsistic lapses, Nick Hornby's "A Writing Life" gives a knowing wink with a series of writer bios and mock headshots, and "Jordan Wellington Lint" by Chris Ware cleverly chronicles the first 13 years of its hero's life. With so much to savor-the sensuality of Adam Thirlwell's "Nigora," the knowingness of George Saunder's "Puppy"-this anthology will sate even the most famished short story fan. Sales benefit Eggers's nonprofit literary organization 826 NYC.