The Times has interviewed novelist David Lodge to mark the second volume of his memoirs. This is entitled Writer’s Luck and will be issued next week. In the interview (reported by Robbie Millen) Lodge discusses the fact that he has never had a novel awarded a Booker Prize:
Lodge describes the prize as being “good for ‘the novel’ but bad for novelists”. Does it annoy him that the prize has overlooked him? “No, it doesn’t bother me. What I have rather resented or regretted is I have not ever been longlisted or shortlisted since Nice Work. That does seem like a snub — though it is silly to see it like that. It is what prizes do to novelists.
Lodge, who is also Honorary President of the Evelyn Waugh Society, explained that he was encouraged to read Waugh’s novels in his youth:
Lodge was born in 1935. His father was a musician in a jazz band, his mother a housewife. “I owe my artistic genes to [my father]. He had a wonderful, natural gift for language, and considering he had such a limited education he was a cultivated man. He put me on to Evelyn Waugh and Dickens and other humorous writers. He encouraged that streak in my own work.
The latest volume of his memoirs carries the story up to 1991. It will be released in the UK on 11 January (USA, 27 February) and is already making news because of another Booker Prize story. When Lodge was chairman of a Booker jury in 1989, two of the members blacklisted Martin Amis’s novel London Fields, and Lodge describes the resulting controversy. He also explains why he feels that he was better off for not having taught at Oxford or Cambridge:
I would have been too obliged to make my mark in this very competitive Oxbridge atmosphere, whereas in Birmingham I was pretty free to do what I wanted.” So off he went to Birmingham — “a great place to feel the pulse of England. London novels are ten a penny. There aren’t many who write about Birmingham. It has been a good place for me in terms of giving me material.”
The first volume of his memoirs, Quite a Good Time to be Born, is available in paperback.