Happy Birthday, Emma Donoghue, born 24 October 1969
10 Emma Donoghue Quotes
- Some writers can produce marvellous plots without planning it out, but I can't. In particular I need to know the structure of a novel: what's going to happen in each chapter and each scene.
- Any subject we exclude from fiction will drop from our culture's memory.
- A memoir is always the most authentic telling of a situation, but a novel gets to different places.
- I read three books a week.
- There are some tales not for telling, whether because they are too long, too precious, too laughable, too painful, too easy to need telling or too hard to explain.
- I'm named after Jane Austen's Emma, and I've always been able to relate to her. She's strong, confident but quite tactless.
- The great thing about a short story is that it doesn't have to trawl through someone's whole life; it can come in glancingly from the side.
- Writers should be applauded for their ability to make things up.
- I think the only difference between me and other people is that when I hear of an interesting historical incident, I immediately write it down and Google it.
- Writing stories is my way of scratching that itch: my escape from the claustrophobia of individuality. It lets me, at least for a while, live more than one life, walk more than one path. Reading, of course, can do the same.
Emma Donoghue’s 10 Best Books
- Alan Garner’s Red Shift is an extraordinary fantasy novel about the same spot in England in Roman, Civil War, and modern times; in my teens this book was a cult for me, and I think it should be rediscovered by all fans of, say, Philip Pullman.
- Which leads me to Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials — Perhaps the most ambitious ‘“children’s books” (whatever that means) around today.
- Emily Dickinson’s Collected Works — Because she’s like a Martian, she has a strange and original take on every aspect of life on Earth.
- Sarah Waters’s Affinity — I read it in one sitting on a long night flight over the Atlantic (perhaps the ideal conditions for any book?) and was completely gripped and spooked out by this ghost/love story set in a Victorian prison.
- Carol Anshaw’s Aquamarine — A brilliant examination of three ways someone’s life might have gone.
- Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White — A fantastic, tight Victorian thriller about a stolen identity.
- Alan Gurganus’s Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All — An extraordinary saga about the Civil War South.
- Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries — A deeply satisfying experiment with many different ways of narrating an ordinary life, and it made me weep hysterically on a train, much to my lover’s embarrassment.
- Jane Austen’s Emma — I can’t prove it’s her best, but it’s the one I’m named after, and I strongly identify with her spoiled, arrogant, likeable heroine.
- Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife — I’ve only just finished this funny-strange, funny-ha-ha love story, so it’s my latest favourite.
Source: Barnes & Noble
Donoghue is an Irish-born playwright, literary historian and novelist who lives in Canada. Her 2010 novel Room was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.
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