9 Pearls of Wisdom About Writing, Culture, and Life from A.M. Homes, Winner of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction

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At the age of 16, A.M. Homes dropped out of high school to write suicidal poems. When she turned 19, she was sued by J.D. Salinger for writing an incriminating play about him (we should all have such a rad reputation). Now in her early 50s, Homes is known both for her sharp prose and dark humor and, most recently, as the winner of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction.

Her win last night inspired us to dive into her copious interview archives, and she has a pretty incredible perspective on life, literature, and writing. Here, 9 gems:

  • "My responsibility as a writer is to raise the questions. I can’t answer the questions. I don’t like stories with endings that wrap it up for you and tell you how to think or feel. The responsibility of an artist is to create works that people can respond to." (From bombsite.com)
  • "I just don't think I can be called Amy. Do I look like an Amy? Do I write like an Amy? If I were called Jonathan, it would be easier–given the kind of things I write. We judge the content of what men and women write very differently. A lot of women get mad at me because of the violence. Maybe they never turn on the TV."(From Guardian.co.uk)
  • "I never wanted to believe in the gender thing–I thought women could write anything–but now I think there's a conspiracy of small books. Thin books, simple books, girly books. That's fine, but I don't want to write those books." (From Guardian.co)
  • "I also think, unfortunately, there’s this dull literalness to the culture. I think we’ve become fact-obsessed; we’re kind of comforted by facts and information. And now between reality TV and the faux memoir, we’ve lost track of what actual nonfictional reality actually is." (From bookslut.com)
  • "Your job, as an artist, is to look at the world that you live in and respond to it. It’s a dialogue that furthers our understanding of ourselves. Ideally." (From bombsite.com)
  • "When I write from the point of view of such different people, I’m gaining additional space for investigation. I need to be able to take on a 53-year-old man, get inside his experience and feel my way through. I don’t want to document the experience of being a 34-year-old writer in New York City. Nothing could interest me less." (From bombsite.com)
  • "We live in a moment when reality itself is somewhat surreal. The oddity or the absurdity of everyday experience is part of what I’m capturing. My sense is that life itself can be so incredibly painful and disturbing that if one is to survive it, one has to find the humour in it." (From Granta.com)
  • "There was a time you could write something that was reflective of the society and also funny, woven together in that way that didn’t have to be one or the other–but I think we’ve lost sight of that." (From Granta.com)
  • "Coke, chocolate, tea. In a regular rotation, punctuated with soup, crackers, peanut butter." (In response to a question about props that are helpful to writing, from Barcelona Review).

P.S. One more thing we couldn't resist sharing: A.M. Homes has also written a number of essays inspired by works of art. Click through to read this one based off a Carol Dunham painting.

Image: Getty Images