Review: John Lanchester, The Hostry, Norwich

NNF15. John Lanchester. Photo: Coll McDonnell.

NNF15. John Lanchester. Photo: Coll McDonnell. - Credit: Coll McDonnell

I have long admired John Lanchester the novelist. Now, after his money talk, he's impressed as an explainer of complex financial matters.

His was the first session in Writers' Centre Norwich's A Literary Festival In A Weekend - part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival - and took the form of a 'conversation' which we are told people prefer these days to a talk. It was chaired by the verbose Jonathan Morley, from WCN.

Lanchester gave a reading from his book 'How to Speak Money', discussed literature and how the 'unhelpful term non-fiction is a particularly English language thing', politics and economics.

He wrote the book from a desire to explain financial vocabulary, as most of us have 'semi-knowledge' at best; we just 'go along' with terms that cause deliberate obfuscation.

Of course money makes the world go round, but do we actually know the differences between fiscal and monetary? Could we explain micro versus macro economics?

Does it matter? Well Lanchester felt driven to write following research for a novel - 'the trouble with research is that you end up using it, even if you shouldn't.'

He was witty, articulate and informative. A wonderful festival afternoon.

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David Porter

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