Words matter. These are the best John Lanchester Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
Fact doesn’t have to be plausible; it just has to be fact.
During the 20th century, the greatest danger to European stability was Germany’s sense of its special destiny. During the 21st century, the greatest danger to European stability is Germany’s reluctance to accept its special destiny.
‘Dead peasants insurance’ is a term that sounds as if it comes straight out of Monty Python. If only that were true.
For a while, I had a rule of no smartphone in bed, but now I’ve upgraded to no smartphone in the bedroom. The fact that we need rules shows how much these things have invaded our lives.
I write non-fiction quicker, and I write it on a computer. Fiction I write longhand, and that helps make it clear that it comes from a slightly different part of the brain, I think.
Security is a complicated idea and one with an immense potential to trap us – that was one lesson I learnt from my father.
My mum had this amazing ability to deflect things, and from an early age, I knew what I was not supposed to talk about.
I love short stories, but I’ve never had the impulse to write one. Same for ghost stories.
Because the Spanish eat so crazily late – anybody who’s been to Spain has had the experience of sitting down at 9:30 P.M. to find themselves the first customer in the restaurant – they tend to favour an early-evening drink and a nibble to keep them going.
Is it OK to admit to being slightly obsessed with the TV programme ‘Great British Menu?’
We should all know our family’s story, all the more so if nobody tells it to us directly and we have to find it out for ourselves.
I’d like to pretend to be all Olympian and above it, as if this is a phenomenon I’m observing from a great height, nothing to do with my own behavior at all – but the fact is I’m absolutely one of those people in the cafe staring at my phone.
We don’t want to think about money in an ideal life; in a well-lived life, money wouldn’t be one of our primary concerns, and we prefer to adopt the ostrich position.
Inequality in the developed world fell for most of the 20th century; we can make it fall for most of the 21st century, too. But it won’t happen without sustained pressure on politicians from electorates.
Photography brought a lot to painting because it forced artists to think about what painting could do that photography couldn’t.
I grew up abroad, and when I first passed through London in the 1970s, it seemed a drab and provincial place.
When I first travelled to New York in 1982 on a summer holiday as a student, I remember thinking how exciting it was, how energising it felt, and also how it felt dangerous – it was a place where you could make a wrong turn, either geographically or just in a human interaction, and suddenly find yourself in trouble.
The Internet makes writing about restaurants easier and more interesting in quite a few ways, one of the main ones being to do with the mundane business of checking what’s on the menu.
There’s an awful lot of us who don’t quite speak finance, speak money.
I don’t think quantitative easing is deliberately misleading, but I do think it’s suspiciously bland and reassuring. It doesn’t sound like anything big, experimental, scary and strange – which is what many economists think it is.
Why should the idea of Western liberal democracy automatically imply unregulated free-market capitalism?
Our societies have achieved a general level of prosperity of which most of all the human beings who have ever lived could only dream. Now we need to show that we can stop continually wanting more – more money, more stuff. We must show that it is possible for people to realise that they have enough.
I have a horror of going down dead ends, which you can easily do with a novel, spending months on it and then realising that it’s all wrong. It’s demoralising, because you don’t get the time back.
At the risk of being old-fartish, I like old-school wines that taste the way the winemaker intended, as opposed to organic and untreated ones with more bottle variation. If I want to take a risk, I’ll go bungee-jumping.
I think smartphones are one of humanity’s most remarkable creations: computers are amazing enough, but a supercomputer you can carry in your pocket and communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere… it’s no wonder they’re troublingly addictive.
Once you learn to ‘speak’ money – which is what I felt I did through the research that led me to write ‘Whoops!’ – you start to see it at work all around you. It’s like a language, a code written on the surface of things; it’s in flow all around us, all the time.
If we are going to remake society in the image of the fight against terrorism and put that secret fight at the heart of our democratic order – which is the way we’re heading – we need to discuss it, and in public.
I rather envy writers who do variations on a theme. I like reading those books, but in practice, I can’t do it.
To make three films out of one shortish book, they have to turn it into an epic, just as ‘Lord of the Rings’ is an epic. But ‘The Hobbit’ isn’t an epic: its tone is intimate and personal, and although it’s full of adventures and excitement, they’re on a different scale to those of the bigger book.
It would be too glib, not a hundred per cent true, to say that my father’s career as a banker was what made me a writer. But it would be slightly true, and it was certainly the case that his work as a banker made me see that the trade-offs people make between their work and their lives are often badly skewed.
Nando’s is a casual restaurant rather than a fast-food one – another aspirational touch. The food is energetically spiced, where so many of its competitors are bland and grilled to order, where the competition fries food and then lets it sit around.
I don’t answer the phone or do my email; I don’t do anything until I’ve got the day’s writing done. I have a word count for every day: 500 for fiction, 1,000 for non-fiction, and journalism is 1,500. That’s a level I can sustain.
Video games are the first new artistic medium since television, but they are more different from television than television was from cinema; they are the newest new thing since the arrival of the movies just over a century ago.
The economics of setting up a new restaurant are scary in good times and terrifying in bad ones.
One of the things I have noticed about my novels is that they all concern people who can’t quite bring themselves to tell the truth about their own lives… I’ve come to realise that this interest in damaged, untellable stories comes from my parents.
Once I’ve properly finished a book, my ideal state of being would be to never think about it again. But with ‘Capital,’ I felt I’d spent so much time with the characters that they were very, very real, and I definitely had a sense of loss about leaving them behind in a way I’ve not quite had before.
It doesn’t thrill me to bits that the state has to use the tools of electronic surveillance to keep us safe, but it seems clear to me that it does, and that our right to privacy needs to be qualified, just as our other rights are qualified, in the interest of general security and the common good.
I do believe in that thing about the reading audience being very important to the formation of the novel at its birth.
I’m a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies – I went to all three of them on the day they opened and have seen all of them several times since.
The deconstructed, postmodern pizza has been with us for ages, and the fact is that pretty much every ingredient in the world has been used as a pizza topping and liked by somebody, somewhere.
My mother was very proud of being Irish and being a Gunnigan in a straightforward way.
I grew up in Hong Kong, and London used to seem very gray: the sky was gray, the buildings were gray, the food was incredibly gray – the food had, like, new kinds of grayness specially invented for it.
The Chinese are much too sensible to like turkey – come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered turkey anywhere in East Asia, either in a market or on a menu.
Obviously you can stash money under your mattress, cut down on hazelnut lattes, but in terms of the larger economic frame of our lives, we have very little agency. About one of the only things you can do is understand it.
Most British tapas bars aren’t bars at all. They’re restaurants that specialise in tapas. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a bit different from the Spanish way of doing things, in which tapas is an adjunct to the drinks and the general vibe.