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WHAT BOOK would booker-longlisted author Nathan Harris take to a desert island?

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Are you reading now?

Deacon King Kong by James McBride. Rare is the author so adept at portraying a country’s racial struggles while maintaining such a cohesive register of comedy that delivers laughter with almost every word.

McBride has always been one of my favorite authors and this novel lives up to its high standard. I also just finished At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop. I would say that we have a different tone.

Nathan Harris (pictured) is currently reading Deacon King Kong by James McBride.  Booker's shortlist would take Tolstoy's War and Peace to a desert island

Nathan Harris (pictured) is currently reading Deacon King Kong by James McBride. Booker’s shortlist would take Tolstoy’s War and Peace to a desert island

Pretty dark. But when you can have different books at the same time, both singing in a different pitch, they don’t usually clash for me. I love the inner thrill of going from a book that makes me laugh to one that makes my eyes widen in horror. Both experiences make for delightful reading. (Diop’s novel is excellent, for the record.)

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Would you take you to a desert island?

I haven’t had a chance to read War and Peace yet, so I’m going to choose Tolstoy’s classic. I imagine I could limit myself to a few pages a day, savoring the intricate web of characters, plots, and themes that have drawn so many readers to the novel over the years.

If I take advantage of it, which I’m sure I would, I’d be perfectly fine if my rescuers waited a few days to pick me up. Maybe they can drop me some ingredients for a Pina Colada? Looks like a great vacation, overall!

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First gave you the reading bug?

Nathan has a tattoo of Ferdinand the Bull.  He says The Story of Ferdinand gave him the reading bug

Nathan has a tattoo of Ferdinand the Bull. He says The Story of Ferdinand gave him the reading bug

I have a tattoo of Ferdinand the bull so any answer other than Ferdinand’s story seems wrong here. The themes are timeless. The yearning for a peaceful life, the depiction of how damaging it can be to cause undue harm to others minding their own business.

In the end, don’t we all just want to be free to be alone with our day, smelling the flowers? I am on.

Also, the illustrations are lovely. But maybe I’m biased, considering the tattoo and all. I can’t really go back on that opinion.

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Left you cold?

The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazzard. Beautiful prose, but each page puts me closer and closer to sleep. But that’s the beauty of literature, isn’t it?

There’s something rewarding, even engaging, about reading a novel that may not be for you, but works to better help you cultivate your taste, if only by showing you what you don’t like. And who knows, maybe I’ll come back to it in 20 years and blame myself for writing anything. Books have a funny way of hitting you differently over time. It is one of the great wonders of a life spent reading.

  • The Sweetness Of Water by Nathan Harris (Published by Tinder Press £8.99) is available now.

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