"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

What is a Best Selling Author?

Later this month a book, Writers in Black and White, is published which includes interviews with a range of contemporary British authors, described as "best-selling", in which they talk about their writing lives.  It is a beautifully produced book with stunning black and white photographs and I am very honoured to be one of the subjects.  But a "best-selling author"?  I think there's a mistake but I am happy to go along with it.  I really feel, as Matthew Arnold once put it, that: "I am the most unpopular of authors."  Bruce Chatwin, when his Songlines became an authentic best-seller, asked himself: "Have I joined the trash artists?"  Typically, he wanted his cake and eat it.  Every writer wants his or her book to sell, not out of vanity, but because books need the co-operation of readers to come alive.  An unread book is simply a heap of paper and glue until another's imagination comes along to breathe life into it.  No doubt there are some authors who like the idea of not being appreciated by the vulgar, of being a rarified taste, but I think they are very few.  So I am going to enjoy my slightly fraudulent status as a "best-seller" for at least as long as it takes for anyone to look up my sales figures.  Oh, and do go out and buy this lovely book.

1 comment:

Styles said...

What an interesting sounding book...thanks for bringing it to my attention. I have always loved books about authors, and have tried my hand at writing - which is so challenging. I take my hat off to you and your 'colleagues' because give your energy for the rest of us to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Bestseller author - take it on board, why not!