The Next Chapter·DOG-EARED READS

Tom Rachman on the lasting relevance of A Collection of Essays by George Orwell

The author on why he re-reads the Orwell classic nonfiction work.
Tom Rachman is a Canadian novelist. (Penguin Random House/Mariner Books)

Tom Rachman is an English-born, Vancouver-raised novelist and journalist. He has published four novels including his 2010 Giller Prize-nominated novel The PerfectionistsThe Rise & Fall of Great Powers and the novel The Italian Teacher, which was a finalist for the Costa Novel Award.

Rachman tells The Next Chapter why he keeps returning to A Collection of Essays by George Orwell

"There are pieces in this book that are so crisp and full of Orwell's own intelligence and experience. But they also touch on many relevant things today: Politics and the English Language, for example, is the quintessential essay about how to write well and how to fend off political bias, something that we're all thinking about a lot these days. Essay Notes on Nationalism touches on so many of the concerns that seem to be rising nowadays, as people become more and more obsessed with the closing borders and worrying about who's coming into their country.

"When I first read George Orwell's book, I was probably about 12 years old. My father introduced them to me and he instilled in me a lifelong fascination and appreciation for the ideas and precise writing of Orwell. He has a way of communicating himself without any purple prose or flowery writing, yet somehow it seems so crisp and so alive. When I read it today, I gain more layers because I have a greater understanding with time the way that the world works and some of the issues that he's talking about."

Tom Rachman's comments have been edited for length and clarity.  


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