Back to the very beginning

Back to the very beginning
Pat Barker: ‘Leave my neuroses alone. They’re paying the rent!’ Pic: Getty

Pat Barker tells Anna Carey how her latest novel – a reimagining of Homer’s epic from the point of view of Trojan women stolen by the Greeks – was inspired by a line from Philip Roth, and why she feels psychoanalysis would ruin her writing

‘For a novelist,” says Pat Barker, “war strips away the inessentials in a very stark way. It imposes dramatic change on people in a very short time. It puts in front of them decisions that have to be taken. And historically, of course, these questions are posed to men. But women’s lives too are changed and overturned by war. If you believe, as I do, that the whole point of fiction is to extend empathy by entering deeply into the emotional and ethical life of another human being, then to put that human into a state of great internal and external conflict will uncover their deep character in a way that almost nothing else can.”

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