| NEW YORK, July 17
NEW YORK, July 17 Best-selling author Tom
Rachman plays with identity in his latest novel, "The Rise &
Fall of Great Powers," which follows the life of a woman taken
from her home as a young girl and left to wander the world with
an unusual cast of characters.
The book, which comes four years after Rachman's widely
acclaimed debut novel "The Imperfectionists," focuses on Tooly
Zylberberg, the owner of an isolated bookstore in Wales. A
message from an ex-boyfriend sends her on a journey of
Written in reverse chronological order and set around the
world, her past is slowly unraveled. Rachman uses muddy time
lines and historical events to explore what makes us who we are.
Rachman talked with Reuters about identity, success and how
life has inspired his work.
Q: "The Imperfectionists" was a huge success. How did you
continue the momentum with this book?
A: You have got to trust your judgment and hope the features
that made your past writing interesting and appealing will
continue to do that for the new book. It's not about what people
want but it's about what is right and what interests you. It has
to grab you and excite you and that's what this new book did.
Q: You have worked as a journalist and have traveled the
world. How has this influenced you as a writer?
A: I have always been interested in seeing the world and
meeting different people or encountering different situations. I
wanted to turn my thoughts into fiction and use those
experiences to broaden what I write.
Q: Why did you give up journalism and start writing novels?
A: The question should be why did I stop writing novels and
start journalism. I entered journalism because I thought I
needed to get some experience and see the world. I thought I
should read and write more before writing stories of my own.
When I got towards the age of 30 I decided to move to Paris and
give up journalism and I've been writing novels ever since.
Q: How do you make your stories entertaining?
A: You have to pay attention to writing your story and ask
yourself are the tales intriguing to you as a reader or else why
should they listen. You want your story to be rich with content
but you also want people to keep reading. It doesn't matter if a
story is at times complicated or even demands something of the
reader, it needs to be a great story and that's what I aim for.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this story?
A: Having lived in several different places and coming from
a family that's been scattered around the world, for a long time
I never grew up feeling like I was part of any particular
culture. I felt like I had bits of different things in me. If
you do have a strong identity, then you draw part of your sense
from the culture that you're in. If not, it poses the question,
'If I am not made of one particular culture, do I invent myself,
do I change over time?'
Part of the reason I chose to juxtapose the different
sections of the book and different time periods was because I
wanted to have the sharp contrast to think about how people
change and how the times change.
Q: Why did you write about a woman like Tooly Zylberberg?
A: I loved spending time with her, as a character. I don't
like to limit myself with characters. You need to let your
readers experience matters through different experiences than
their own. So I decided to write about my imagined version of
another person; that person was Tooly.
Q: What do you want readers to get from the book?
A: I hope they get the pleasure of reading and I hope they
are left with some of the characters and the ideas. In the
background of the story is the story of our own times, so I hope
it'll be intriguing to people but will also encourage them to
think about how life is now.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Jonathan Oatis)