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Claire Mulligan on Writing, Influences and HLM

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Claire Mulligan’s first work of historical fiction, The Reckoning of Boston Jim, was nominated for the 2007 Scotiabank Prize as well as the Ethel Wilson Award.

Claire was born and raised in British Columbia and graduated from UBC in 1995. She currently lives in Victoria BC with her three young children.

What a great pleasure and honour it is to have my short story “Djinns” as the co-winner of the International inaugural Hourglass short story competition. We can read international newspapers, watch foreign films, meet people from other cultures and countries, but fiction remains the most effective way to create empathy and understanding for each others’ cultures. In a way, when you read, you become the person in the novel or story. Writing fiction is the plucking of the one from amongst the many, the showing humanity in all its variety. I have read widely, traveling the globe through the words of its many citizen writers. And I make a point, whenever I travel in actuality, to read fiction writers from that country. Among the international writers who have influenced me the most I include the fabulist South American writers Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marques. The great Polish travel and political writer Ryszard Kapuściński – not fiction exactly but anyone who has read The Emperor knows he has the soul of a novelist. Anything by Italo Calvino, of course! The Dwarf by Par Lagerkvist. All the British writers you care to name. And my latest finds, the South Korean writer Kyung-sook Shin whose novel Please Take Care of Mom drops into the heart of modern South Korea, and finally, A Woman in Berlin, by Anonymous whose real life account of the fall of Berlin matches the insight and soul of any great novel. All these international works inform my short stories, even though, as in Djinns, they are often set in my home province on British Columbia. Thus in Djinns, the main character can’t escape the second world war no matter where he is, and the legends of middle-eastern Djinns informs the arc of the story. Indeed, I believe our cultures and experiences are not isolated from each other and I try and have my fictional universe reflect that. I look forward to reading the world’s most talented fiction writers in Hourglass for many years to come. Thank you again for choosing Djinns!

 

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