My reading of Remainder couldn't help but be hugely influenced by the fact I'm an actor. I was fascinated by the ideas of authenticity and repetition, especially as repetition can be the very enemy of authenticity when performing a long run onstage. What attracted you to those themes and what were you hoping to say in writing about them?
Repetition is the enemy of authenticity indeed. Authenticity is a pernicious meme that needs to be dismantled brick by brick, and repetition has always been a battering ram well-suited to the task. Repetition is beautiful, lyrical and seductive. It's the basis of all poetry.
I have to ask, have you seen 'Synechdoche, New York' and what did you make of it (and its similarities to Remainder)?
I haven't seen it I'm afraid.
(Another film I wonder whether you have seen or not is Certified Copy which deals with notions of originality, copying, authenticity and fakery. I think you might like it)
I haven't seen that either... But Dennis Hopper's 'The Last Movie' is great in this respect. And so is Tarkovsky's 'Solaris'.
The theme of authenticity runs through your work; the art forgery of Men in Space, the parodic work of the International Necronautical Society and even the sale of 'genuine copies' of their documents. Is it likely to remain a recurring motif in your work?
I'm interested in doubles, forgeries, mediations and displacements of all kinds. I imagine they'll continue to feature, although hopefully mutating as the books progress.
You have said in previous interviews that you are influenced by writers such as Blanchot, Derrida, Beckett.... With such strong influences I might ask another writer if they have ever worried about escaping those influences to assert the authenticity of their own voice but I don't think you're that kind of writer. How would you describe the authenticity of your work?
I'd never use that term. Literature is about modes of inauthenticity, and always has been - look at Hamlet or Don Quixote if you doubt this. I'm influenced by lots of other writers, as were all those other writers themselves. My voice was never mine in the first place, and I'd never want to make that claim.. I'd like to think I'd built some good echo-chambers though.
You haven't much time for the 'sentimental humanism' prevalent in a lot of fiction. Could you explain what you mean by that?
I mean a cultural ideology that posits the self as the origin and source of all experience, and language as a tool for self-expression. It's a reactionary dead-end. It's the default ideology of almost the entire cultural industry (visual art being a notable enclave of exception), but all good work subverts this in some way or other.
There tends to be a fair bit of it on fiction prize shortlists. C was nominated for the Booker last year. What was your experience of being part of that bandwagon?
The ice-cream desert at the dinner was very good.
Do you have any thoughts on this year's recently announced longlist?
You're asking the wrong person: I've never read a novel on the Booker list in my life.
What are you working on at the moment and how does it fit in with the rest of your work?
I'm working on a book about pollution and mutation. It will end in a zombie parade. I'm interested in the insistent return of the material, and the dead.
Is there an underappreciated book that you would like to recommend to readers of this blog?
'The Adventures of Mao on the Long March' by Frederic Tuten.
I always ask my interviewees to 'do a Hemingway' and write a story in just 6 words. Would you have a go?
'For sale: shotgun, one previous owner.'
'C' is now available in paperback.