Alison Pick started off as a poet and then, like many Canadians before her*, turned to prose (beautiful, well-crafted prose). She wrote her first novel, The Sweet Edge, in a Benedictine Monastery. Far to Go, her second novel was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and described by the Financial Times as ‘…a potential classic in the making that deserves to be on every reading list.’ It centres on the Czech Bauer family who are forced to grapple with the decision of whether to send six-year old Pepik on the kindertransport. The impetus for the novel came from the surprising discovery of her own Jewish heritage which led to her Jewish conversion whilst writing the book. She’ll be in conversation with author Jake Wallis Simon and Guardian Literary editor, Claire Armitstead at JBW on Sunday 26th February and of all the dream dinner parties our writers have thrown, hers is the one I’d most like to crash.
*Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Anne Michaels
If you could escape to another world, what would there be that is missing here?
Healthy chocolate. Also an hourly wage for fiction writers, so daydreaming could be done on the clock.
What is the book you “inherited” from a parent or teacher that made a profound impression on you?
I loved both I AM DAVID and TUCK EVERLASTING when we read them in Elementary School. That said, I don’t remember much plot-wise about either one, so perhaps it was just the teacher himself who made an impression…
The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff
What is the most Jewish thing you have ever done?
Converted to Judaism. I grew up thinking I was Christian, and found out later that my Father’s family had hidden their Judaism following the Holocaust. Researching FAR TO GO gave me an opportunity to delve into my family’s lost faith and I found that it resonated in a way Christianity never had.
When did you know you would become a writer?
In the last year of my undergraduate degree I took a Creative Writing course as a lark, and fell head over heels in love. From that moment I had no other choice.
If you were not a writer, what would you be?
Prior to my late discovery of the world of simile and metaphor, I was studying to be a therapist. Tragedy narrowly averted. Turns out I’m a terrible listener.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of writing advice I received was threefold: read, read, read. This was followed up by three more juicy morsels: write, write, write.
I would like to alleviate global suffering with a single flap of my cape. Failing that, I would double the number of hours in the day. But only in my own day. And nobody else would know I’d done it.
Who (living or dead) would you invite to your ideal Friday night dinner?
Emma Goldman, Marc Chagall, and my late great grandmother Ruzenka, who practiced her Judaism in secret for her whole life.
On the very distant day when you will make it to the other side, what would you like God (assuming there is one) to say to you?