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28 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 25 March 2012

Mariella Frostrup talks to Marilynne Robinson about her new collection of essays, "When I Was A Child I Read Books", about faith, fiction and what it means to be a human being - themes also present in her award winning novels Gilead and Home. Civilisation: community, justice, faith, education, democracy, care for the environment and for our fellow citizens, all come under her scrutiny and she casts a particularly critical eye over what she perceives as the "march of austerity" sweeping away all that "may be called humane"; in particular as these things are represented in the United States.

What do George Elliot, Raymond Chandler and Annie Proulx have in common? They all published their first novels in their fifties - as has debut novelist Charlotte Rogan, whose novel "The Lifeboat" is published this month to universal praise. She joins Paul Torday who published his first novel "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" when he was 61 to discuss the pros and cons of a mature debut and whether publishers are too preoccupied with the next bright young thing.

And the weird and wonderful things that customers say in bookshops from "Is this book edible?" to "Do you have any crime books involving speeding fines?" to "Do you have any books in this shade of green, to match the wrapping paper I've bought?" Writer and bookseller Jen Campbell on her humorous collection of customers' extraordinary requests - a unique and affectionate insight into the world of bookselling and bookshops.


    Marilynne Robinson
    When I Was A Child I Read Books published by Virago

    Her previous titles include: Home; Gilead; Housekeeping.

    Paul Torday and Charlotte Rogan
    The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan published by Virago
    The Legend of Hartlepool Hall published by Weidenfeld and Nicholson

    Weird Things That Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell published by Constable and Robinson


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