Main content

Why Write Stories?

Episode 2 of 12

Marina Warner looks at the world of contemporary storytelling and examines why we write stories in the first place. From 2015.

Why write stories?

Marina Warner looks at the world of contemporary fiction. In the company of leading contemporary writers, she considers a story and story writing from a different angle.

Marina speaks with writers as diverse as Julian Barnes, Michelle Roberts, Fanny Howe, Marlene van Niekerk, Alain Mabanckou, Lydia Davis, Edwin Frank, Elleke Boehmer, Wen-Chin Ouyang, Daniel Medin, Nadeem Aslam and Laszlo Krasznahorkai.

There are questions around the boundaries between fact and fiction which Marina believes are central to any consideration of storytelling, since readers' pleasure depends so much on trust built up between the storyteller or writer and the audience.

With discussions on the reasons for writing, writers as witnesses and political interaction.

Marina was Chair of the Man Booker International Prize 2015 and the series draws on the expertise of the International Booker judging panel, the views of the shortlisted writers, as well as other key literary talent.

Producer: Kevin Dawson
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio first broadcast in July 2015.

Available now

15 minutes


Seiobo járt odalent (Seiobo There Below), by László Krasznahorkai, published 2008 by Magvető. Originally written in Hungarian. English translation by Ottilie Mulzet published 2013 by New Directions.


Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass (Asinus aureus), by Apuleius, published late second century AD. Originally in Latin.


Memorandum: 'n Verhaal met Prente (Memorandum: A Story with Pictures), by Marlene van Niekerk, published in 2006 by Human & Rousseau. Originally written in Afrikaans. English translation by Michiel Heyns, published 2006 by Human & Rousseau.