Posted on December 30 2017
Melissa De Silva
How many books have you read this year?
MDS: 20 to 30.
Which authors have made an impact on you?
MDS: I have always enjoyed Agatha Christie for her brilliantly-constructed mysteries and the real as life Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple too. This year I've read quite a few of her mysteries as they help me with the historical novel I am currently working on. There is a mystery of sorts at the heart of it, and a murder trial. Agatha Christie's Sad Cypress, which I read this year, has a riveting series of courtroom scenes I just gobbled up for their tension and unguessable yet inevitable verdict.
This year I've also discovered the writings of Buddhist monk and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh. His book, The Art of Communicating, is an exquisitely tender lesson in what it is to communicate with gentleness, kindness and love, and has given me so much insight on empathy in our speech and listening with others.
While I haven't read anything new by him this year, I reread The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. He is a writer I admire for his masterful grasp of the craft of storytelling, as every story of his draws you in effortlessly into the folds of the plot and his characters which are so strikingly real. The book of his I loved most, besides that, is The Absolutist.
What are your top books of the year?
• The Gift of Rain —Tan Twan Eng
• The Guest Cat — Takashi Hiraide
• The Art of Communicating – Thich Nhat Hanh
• Inside the Smile —Tamsin Hopkins
• A Passage to India – E.M. Forster
What genres have you enjoyed most this year?
MDS: Historical fiction, as it feeds into the genre I am currently writing, and nonfiction, as I am beginning to explore the fascinating subjects of nonviolent communication and loving speech. I always enjoy beautifully-written, beautifully-imagined fiction, which has the magical balance between plot and character, a sweet spot that encompasses both commercial and literary! Tan Twan Eng and John Boyne do a remarkable job of this.