Alice Thompson

This article is from 2010.

Alice Thompson

The Edinburgh novelist gets used to the spotlight

‘It’s a great honour to be asked to appear at the Edinburgh Book Festival,’ says Alice Thompson. ‘It’s like being knighted.’ And no one deserves it more than this Edinburgh-based author. Her fifth and most recent work, The Existential Detective, finds her courageously grappling with the crime fiction genre for the first time, and cleverly subverting it in her trademark spooky and surreal manner.

Reactions to the novel so far have been hugely positive, but as she prepares for her forthcoming festival appearance, Thompson is as humble as ever. ‘I’m overwhelmed. I’ve never had such a positive response to one of my books. I’m still recovering from the launch a week ago. The room was full of goodwill with people even standing and sitting on stairs. My agent lobbed some awkward questions at me and then it was the audience’s turn; that kept me on my toes. A wonderful, unforgettable evening.’

A detective story ‘for people who have an imagination and enjoy being confounded’, The Existential Detective has been programmed for discussion alongside Italian scribe Paulo Giordano’s best-seller The Solitude of Prime Numbers, and the authors will be delving into both books at this highly anticipated joint event. Each work explores themes of memory, childhood, family and loneliness.

‘We both write about loss, but his prose is more transparent while mine is more metaphoric,’ says Thompson. ‘I never know what the response is going to be to my novels when I read them out loud. I’m always aware of the rhythm of sentences when I write but it’s very different actually reading them out to strangers; it can feel like a kind of literary striptease. It’s always odd being in the spotlight for a writer. You spend years alone in a garret and then suddenly you’re briefly thrust out into the limelight.’ Something tells us Alice Thompson is going to have to get used to it.

25 Aug (with Paolo Giordano), 7.30pm, £7 (£5).

Paolo Giordano & Alice Thompson

Memory, childhood, family and lonely individuals linked together but somehow forever separated; these are some of the themes shared by two books from different corners of Europe. Paulo Giordano’s The Solitude of Prime Numbers is a million-copy bestseller in Italy, while Alice Thompson’s new book, The Existential…

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