Coming soon at the Big Read Meet in March: A.A. Gill's new book, Lines In The Sand

British writer A.A. Gill.
British writer A.A. Gill.PHOTO: WEIDENFELD & NICHOLSON

SINGAPORE - The Big Read Meet is on next Wednesday (March 29)!

The Meet is a popular monthly non-fiction book club by The Straits Times and the National Library Board (NLB) which has been running since July 2013.

Senior Writer Cheong Suk-Wai, whose column The Big Read on Tuesdays is linked to the Meet, moderates it.

Join her then to discuss the late British journalist A.A. Gill's new book Lines In The Sand, from 6.30pm in the Multi-Purpose Room, Central Public Library, B1, NLB headquarters at 100 Victoria Street. Sign up for it at any NLB e-Kiosk.

Please note that the Meet will be live-streamed on the National Reading Movement's Facebook page. Watch last month's Meet at tinyurl.com/h3kenjn.


Book cover of Lines In The Sand: Collected Journalism by A.A. Gill. PHOTO: WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON

 

Adrian Anthony (A.A.) Gill, who died aged 62 of cancer on Dec 10, 2016, was a writer's writer - who could not write. He was profoundly dyslexic, and had to file all his stories by dictating them word for word over the telephone to a colleague, who typed them out for readers.

In a tribute to him on Feb 17, Alex Bilmes, the current editor-in-chief of Esquire UK magazine, said he rarely, if ever, needed to edit Gill's writing because he spoke in such clear, full sentences.

For example, in 2000, when Bilmes asked Gill what his most memorable meal had been, Gill responded on the spur of the moment like this: "It was bright sun, one of those hot, hot days, just enough breeze to keep the midges off and it was of a staggering beauty that only Scotland has. And there was that honey smell of heather. In my pocket, I carried a cold grouse and a piece of Dundee cake. I remember sitting there, almost crying because I was so happy, thinking. 'This is so utterly perfect.'"

In Lines In The Sand, Gill's last book, he used his powers of observation to force everyone to confront the travesties of our times, especially the plight of refugees. Reading his accounts of sharing meals and tents with displaced people from Myanmar to Lampedusa is the next best thing to being among the refugees themselves.

His reporting was so acute that the United Nations got him to speak at a conference on statelessness in September 2014, and Amnesty International gave him its Media award later that year.

Lines In The Sand also contains his final food review column, of a fish-and-chips restaurant, and his thoughts on turning 60 in June 2014. In the latter column, the father of four looked forward to watching up to four more World Cups, but noted that at his age, every routine health check was "a life-and-death appointment".

Find out more about the Big Read Meet here.