Ann Patchett

This article is from 2007.

Ann Patchett

Orange prize-winner advocates clear thinking

In the space of 24 hours, Ann Patchett’s Run covers an entire social spectrum: interracial relationships, Catholicism and its validity, familial conflict, economic and class equality, and political ethics. This is a hefty fallout from a single event for the already traumatised group of characters in her latest novel. Fitting quite so many social concerns into less than 300 pages is certainly an ambitious foray into American culture.

‘I write about the things that are compelling to me,’ she says. ‘I care very deeply about my characters and I have to be engaged with characters and ideas in order to stay with them for so long. I can write a magazine article about something I’m not necessarily interested in because it only takes a couple of days but a novel can take me years so I have to really care about the issues.’

Though a fan of the convoluted Henry James – ‘I just can’t get enough of him’ – her approach is almost journalistic. ‘I don’t like things to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult. I’m a clear thinker, a clear writer.’ In order to address pretty much all the concerns of modern America in a single book, it’s the only way to be. (Katie Gould)

Recommended reading: Bel Canto, the Orange prize-winning novel about a complex hostage situation.

26 Aug (with Valerie Martin), 3.30pm, £7 (£5).

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