Author Event: Sam Leith and Simon Lelic

20 08 2011

Sam Leith and Simon Lelic
The sun was well and truly out in Charlotte Square by 15.30 and already the day had been long, chilled, hard work, but very enjoyable.

Attendance in the Square looked to be very good with the sun brining people into the book festival to lie about (avoiding the mud), socialise and read in the shade. Summer was very much here for the Edinburgh Book Festival yesterday.

My final event of the day involved two new writers for me, Sam Leith and Simon Lelic. Both writers have written quite remarkable novels in that they are very much satirical and often, judging by the readings, fantastical. “Sometimes reality is more absurd than fiction,” said Leith.

To quote from the book festival programme: “Leith’s, The Coincidence Engine, mashes up a gaggle of fantastical characters in a tale of an imaginary America haunted by madness, murder, mistaken identity and unhealthy snacks. Lelic’s, The Facility, features a man tasked with running a secret government prison, where he has to deal with frightened inmates, the sinister Dr Silk and his own conscience.”

Interesting stuff, and as both writers read for their novels and then explained their backgrounds and what prompted them to write them, it became apparent that we may well have a couple of potential cult novelists on our hands.

Leith, in particular, cited Douglas Adams as a major influence, although he admitted that he “doesn’t know nearly as much science as Adams knew, which perhaps the novel could have done with.”

The comparisons between both writers are interesting also, in that Lelic and Leith were both journalists now turned fiction writers. “I much prefer creative writing,” said Lelic absolutely, whereas his contemporary admitted that he “really enjoys journalism and wouldn’t want to give it up.”

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