I Am No One

Patrick Flanery writes:

On January 28th, I recorded an interview with Mariella Frostrup, for Radio 4’s Open Book, about my new novel I Am No One, which is narrated by an American who, after more than a decade living in Britain, returns to New York only to find that he is being subjected to ever more intrusive forms of surveillance. There have been occasions in the past when I found myself speaking with an interviewer or moderator at a festival who clearly had not taken the time to read my work, but it was obvious in Mariella’s case that she and her producers had read the book very carefully, and with considerable insight. We spoke about surveillance, about cultural dislocation and migration, and literary influences.

Had I been thinking about Henry James, considering that I have written about an American abroad who is given to articulating his experiences and memories in long and digressive sentences? Not consciously, no, although I was reading Portrait of a Lady shortly before I started work on I Am No One, so perhaps that influence was there, below the surface, however different the end result.

I am no one

Such encounters with engaged and knowledgeable readers of one’s work are, I began to think, a benign form of surveillance, of attentive scrutiny, just as the work of a novelist is, in its own way, a process of watching the world and reflecting one’s observations back onto readers.

After half an hour it was over, and a producer led me down to the lobby of Broadcasting House (reputedly the inspiration for The Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984) and out through the revolving doors, past the security guard—my face captured, no doubt, on various cameras, my visitor’s badge collected and returned to the front desk, a photographer following me to take a picture outside on Portland Place, my presence at that particular time and location recorded and preserved in multiple ways



About Professor Patrick Flanery:

Patrick Flanery is the author of the novels Absolution (2012), Fallen Land (2013), and I Am No One (2016). Absolution won the Spear’s/Laurent Perrier Best First Book Award and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and the Prix du Premier Roman Étranger in France; it was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Desmond Elliott Prize and has been translated into eleven languages. Patrick has written for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, The Guardian, The SpectatorThe Times Literary Supplement, and The Daily Telegraph.
Contact Patrick: p.d.flanery@reading.ac.uk

Visit his webpages: http://www.reading.ac.uk/english-literature/aboutus/Staff/p-d-flanery.aspx

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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