Thursday, May 28, 2015Thursday, May 28, 2015
60 something

Neither a tortoise nor a hare

Author Anita Brookner's protagonists are solitary characters who are the tortoises, not hares, in life

Published on May 10, 2014 8:14 AM

Talk about a late start. English novelist Anita Brookner published her first book, The Debut, in 1981 when she was 53, and at the tail end of an illustrious career as a lecturer at the Courtauld Institute in London.

Three years later, she won the Booker Prize for her novel Hotel Du Lac. Since she retired from Courtauld in 1988, and up to recent years, she had been producing a book a year with clockwork regularity.

She is a reclusive writer and rarely gives interviews. As recounted by journalist Mick Brown in The Sunday Telegraph in 2009, there is a delightful story of Brookner arriving at a publishing party, lingering for a few moments with a friend before disappearing.

Two minutes later, the friend was surprised to see her making her way out. "But Anita," the friend protested, "you've been here only five minutes." Brookner replied: "And I'm so happy that three of them were spent with you."

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!