Literary Panel 1999

Every December, looking ahead to the holidays, Eleanor Wachtel speaks with four writers about the books they read as children, the books that changed their lives, and their favourite books for the year.

Guest books:

Jonathan Swift by Victoria Glendinning is published by Doubleday
Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban is published by Random House
Weird Sister by Kate Pullinger is published by McArthur & Company
The Weary Generations by Abdullah Hussein is published by Peter Owen

Books read as children:

Victoria Glendinning:
Mother read to her Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows - but her favourite book was Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (published in 1937, anti-fascist allegory)

Abdullah Hussein:
Started reading at 5 - books written in Urdu

Kate Pullinger:
Started reading Existentialists at the age of 13

Jonathan Raban:
Forced to read Enid Blyton's The Famous Five - hated them
Also, forced to read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome - hated books about happy families

Books that first made impression on author as a child:

Kate Pullinger:
The poems of A.A. Milne

Jonathan Raban:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Books that affected writing life:

Victoria Glendinning:
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Abdullah Hussein:
Ulysses by James Joyce

Reading lately:

Victoria Glendinning:
Headlong by Michael Frayn (published by Penguin)
In Siberia by Colin Thubron (published by Random House)

Kate Pullinger:
Blindness by Jose Saramago (published by Harcourt Brace & Company)

Jonathan Raban:
The three Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling currently published:
(Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - all published in Canada by Raincoast Books)
Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare (published by Harvill Press)

Chosen as all-time greats:

Jonathan Raban:
Tyndale's translation of The Bible

Kate Pullinger:
In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje
The Lost Salt Gift of Blood; New and Selected Stories by Alistair MacLeod

Victoria Glendinning:
Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

Abdullah Hussein:
Ulysses by James Joyce

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