Florence, Fiction and Historical Fact

October 8, 2014By AlexBlog No Comments

On Saturday evening, a little after five, I walked down through the streets of Florence to the Ponte Santa Trinità. Indian summer blasted over the terracotta rooftops, the sun’s last apricity sending crowds out to bask along the Lungarno, to loll on parapet walls. I made my way over the serene cobbled curve of the … Read More

Letter to A Young Writer

July 9, 2014By AlexBlog 1 Comment

In July, 2014, just after the publication of In Love and War, I was asked to speak to students on the Creative Writing Master’s programme at Oxford University. I read them a letter that I wrote to my younger self. Here it is, with a few illustrative pics. Dear Alex, I’m writing this in July 2014, … Read More

Stoner by John Williams

December 13, 2013By AlexBlog 7 Comments

I’m occasionally accused of being too enthusiastic about books on Twitter. Firstly, I think it’s an peppy medium, feeding upon shared pleasures, the web that the love of a good book can knit between people. Secondly, I’ve been on a good run recently. 2013 was the year I discovered Shirley Hazzard, whose novels (particularly The … Read More

Where Novels Are, There Love Is

March 18, 2013By AlexBlog No Comments

This is the speech I gave at Tolstoy’s home, Yasnaya Polyana, for the 2012 International Tolstoy Festival. In her address to the Edinburgh International Writers’ Conference in August 2012, Adhaf Soueif challenged the idea that novels can, or ought to, be political.”Is a novelist a literary activist?” she asked. “Should the novel be political? I … Read More

St John’s College Sermon

March 12, 2013By AlexBlog 3 Comments

  On Remembrance Sunday, 2012, I preached my first ever sermon on a wintry Oxford evening at St. John’s College Chapel. Here it is. “The wolf shall lie down with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid… The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall … Read More