Five books

Sara Taylor on five books that changed her writing style

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

I’ve always felt that realism isn’t capable of capturing reality because it had no room for reality’s uncanny aspects. Midnight’s Children showed me that telling realism to get bent was a perfectly valid approach.

Love Child by Maureen Duffy

This book is full of gender games and layers upon layers of allusion; every time I read it I find something new. Love Child made me realize that it isn’t just form and language that are open for experimentation. 

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

I remember borrowing this off my father’s nightstand to read covertly when I was about ten – it was the first adult novel I got my hands on and I couldn’t figure out whether it was fact or fiction, but I got so caught up in the play of the language that I didn’t care.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

When I first read Wolves I was too young to tell if Aiken’s version of history was accurate or not; when I got older I realized that accuracy matters less than good storytelling.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Winterson gave voice to things that I could not express – and showed me that the traditional, linear narrative wasn’t the only way to do things.

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