Small Talk: Philippe Claudel

Philippe Claudel, 50, is a novelist, scriptwriter, film director and lecturer. His work includes the novel Brodeck’s Report (2009) and the film I’ve Loved You So Long, which won a Bafta award in 2009. He lives in Dombasle-sur-Meurthe, France, with his wife and daughter.

Who is your perfect reader?

Someone who would like to continue the story I offer up.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?

An interview with Silvio Berlusconi.

What books are currently on your bedside table?

Poems by Philippe Jaccottet, the Holy Bible, In Search of Lost Time by Proust, sonnets by Shakespeare, short stories by Gogol.

What book changed your life?

Mine! Seriously: Journey to the End of the Night by Céline, but my first answer is also true.

When did you know you were going to be a writer?

I don’t know exactly. I still don’t think of myself as a writer. Being a writer scares me.

What is your daily writing routine?

It’s different each day. I don’t like routine. The only routine is death.

What music helps you write?

Silence. I don’t work with music. The only exception is the music of Bach.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?

I never research for a book. I work with my imagination and memory.

Which literary character most resembles you?

Félix de Vandenesse in The Lily of the Valley by Balzac.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

God, if He takes the lift.

When were you happiest?

When I am with my daughter and wife and when I go climbing in the Alps.

How do you relax?

I swim, I drink a glass of good wine and I watch movies.

When did you last cry?

I don’t remember. I don’t have any memory of tears.

What book do you wish you’d written?

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth.

What are you most proud of writing?

I’m never proud or satisfied.

What does it mean to be a writer?

A writer is not so different from anyone else, just a bit more crazy.

Philippe Claudel’s latest novel is ‘The Investigation’ (MacLehose Press)

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