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Friday, August 26, 2016

Language begins with listening


“I believe in communication; books communicate ideas and make bridges between people.” – Jeanette Winterson

The award-winning English writer Winterson, who celebrates her 57th birthday this week, first became famous for her book, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, a semi-autobiographical novel about a sensitive teenage girl rebelling against conventional values.

Some of her other novels have explored gender polarities and sexual identity. Winterson is also a broadcaster and a professor of creative writing.  “My books always begin with a sentence and an image - not necessarily connected,” Winterson said.

After winning a basketful of top awards for Oranges, Winterson followed up by winning the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for The Passion, a novel set in Napoleonic Europe.  As a writer of historical fiction, I like to hold up this book up as an example of “how to do it right.”

A two-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award,                      
 Winterson was made an officer of Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006 “For services to literature.”  One of the best of those “services” is her sensitivity to the lives of others and her terrific portrayal of what she’s witnessed and heard.

“Everything in writing begins with language,” she said, “and language begins with listening.”



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