Episode 25 - Anna Smaill Part 1


Anna Smaill is a New Zealand poet, academic and now Man Booker longlisted novelist. Her striking debut The Chimes has something of all parts of her career so far. There is music (Smaill trained as a violinist), lyricism (in evoking a world in which words have been replaced by melody), intelligence (in exploring grand narratives about connection, language, fundamentalism, technology, religion) and narrative drive: The Chimes is a love story and a dystopian mystery.

We met just before publication at RIBA. After some chatter about jet lag, we moved on to:

  • memories of London, where Smaill began The Chimes, before returning home to New Zealand
  • writing about London as an imaginative place
  • the soundtracks of London and Tokyo
  • German techno and Tokyo dancing vs Suede
  • Smaill pitches The Chimes to Stephen Spielberg (kind of)
  • the problems and danger of language in The Chimes
  • memory, communication and extremism
  • does The Chimes critique contemporary society?
  • the pros and cons of technology
  • the joy of reading
  • linear narrative vs fractured memory
  • Smaill's career anxieties
  • The Chimes returning Smail to the joys of childhood reading
  • from Phd thesis to novel writing
  • Smaill's musical past - playing the violin
  • crisis and giving up music
  • music and identity
  • music, emotion and the physical

I talk to Anna Smaill about her Man Booker longlist in The Independent: here.

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