Rumble box: Favourite authors

Rumble box: Favourite authors

In this week's Rumble Box, Mabel Sieh and Susan Ramsay are engaged in an argument about their favourite authors.

Haruki Murakami

I have quite a few favourite authors, but in recent years, my top one has been Haruki Murakami.

The best-selling and award-winning Japanese novelist has written many famous novels such as Norwegian Wood and IQ84, which have been translated into Chinese and English.

Norwegian Wood was made into a movie of the same name by French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung.

Murakami was described as "among the world's greatest living novelists" by The Guardian.

Yet, growing up, he didn't know he wanted to write. He studied drama at university and his first job was at a record store. He also ran a jazz club before he started writing at the age of 29.

In the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake and the subway gas attack in 1995, the US-based writer returned to Japan. Then he published a series of short stories titled After the Quake, and also his first non-fiction work, Underground, about the gas attack.

Many of his novels have themes and titles related to music: Bird as Prophet is named after a piano piece by Robert Schumann; Dance, Dance Dance after The Dells; and Norwegian Wood after The Beatles' song.

When his latest work, Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, was published earlier this year, hundreds of people in Japan queued up to buy copies.

I think the 64-year-old remains popular because he has a keen understanding of humanity's subtle feelings and struggles.

And I love his style of writing - beautiful and poetic, and sometimes quirky. Whenever I read his books, it always makes me smile with pure satisfaction.

Mabel Sieh


Sir Terry Pratchett

I read so much serious stuff at work that when I read for pleasure, it had better be exceptional.

I have two favourite writers and the most prolific of those is Terry Pratchett. Sir Terry (he has been knighted for his writing) has not just given us a book, but an entire planet, Discworld.

He writes fantasy - some are for children and some are not, but most are set in Discworld.

There is no doubt that Pratchett is a genius. I love going with him on wild adventures where he pokes fun at everything, even his own story. His writing has so many levels to it that he keeps me thinking for weeks afterwards. Even his most innocent of books, like The Bromeliad Triology, has me thinking about life, God and the universe.

It's hard to pick just one as my favourite. I love The Truth, which is about the beginnings of journalism. It captures the essence of the press - writing things down that people would rather you did not write down, and making them public.

Another of my faves is Interesting Times which takes the mickey out of the great fictional barbarian, Genghis Cohen.

Here is an extract to end my argument: "The Silver Horde were honest (from their specialised point of view) and decent (from their specialised point of view) and saw the world as hugely simple. They stole from rich merchants and temples and kings. They didn't steal from poor people; this was not because there was anything virtuous about poor people, it was simply because poor people have no money."

You can learn a lot about life when reading Pratchett, and as a bonus you get to LOL all the way.

Susan Ramsay

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