I grew up memorizing huge portions of the Bible (in this case The King James version) and as a child I loved the Old Testament stories...
—David Bergen, writer
Winnipeg novelist David Bergen is
known around the world for his award winning short stories and novels.
He was raised in the Mennonite faith and he credits that experience with fueling his passion for writing.
His most recent novel, The Age of Hope, is on the list of books for Canada Reads 2013. It will be defended by Ron MacLean.
SCENE asked David Bergen what was on his reading pile.
I recently finished Kevin Power's novel, The Yellow Birds. It has a biblical cadence to it, which is not surprising as it is set in Iraq, in the province of Ninevah.
Family bible from 1859 (David Ball, Wikipedia)
Which brings me to the book that has influenced me the most. It has to be the Bible, and the influence is both positive and negative.
I grew up memorizing huge portions of the Bible (in this case The King James version) and as a child I loved the Old Testament stories, the ones about Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, Samson slaying lions and loving Delilah, David having one of his generals killed so that he can take Bathsheba as a lover.
The stories are full of gore and bravery and treachery and betrayal and tragedy. Shakespeare certainly learned a lot from these stories--I think of the Book of Esther and of Queen Esther in relation to Lady Macbeth, though of course Lady Macbeth suffered more doubt about killing.
Like Shakespeare, other writers I admire also have a biblical leaning. A short list: Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O'Connor, Faulkner.
Of course, the religion I grew up with used the Bible towards a certain end, one I eventually let go of. But influenced I was, and I still am. I lean towards biblical cadence in my writing.
I am ever aware of parable. Biblical images find their way into my novels. Mostly though I hang onto the powerful characters, all the more so because these same characters are so human and fallible and tragic.