Edinburgh Book Festival review: Michel Faber

The award-winning novelist and short story writer talks about his desire to create an “uplifting, fun, emboldening adventure”

Michel Faber
Michel Faber

It’s always been hard to predict what Michel Faber would do next. And that was before the prodigiously talented author of Under the Skin and The Crimson Petal and the White said that, following the death of his wife Eva from cancer in 2014, he would not write another novel. However, this week found him at the (virtual) Edinburgh International Book Festival, talking about his new book - a story for children.

D: A Tale of Two Worlds (described by chairman and Scotland on Sunday critic Stuart Kelly as a “firework of delights”) is part adventure story, part tribute to Charles Dickens. It’s protagonist is Dikhilo, a 13-year-old refugee from Somaliland, now living in Kent, who accepts a challenge from the mysterious Professor Dodderfield to travel to the land of Liminous to recover some disappearing letter ‘d’s.

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Faber spoke about his desire to create an “uplifting, fun, emboldening adventure” about a resourceful heroine who lives by her wits, and which finishes on a note of hope, “because young people are essential for rebuilding things after a collapse, and we are heading for a collapse, we have an unsustainable civilisation.”

Plus there’s a fantasy world populated by Quilps, Magwitches, Pumblechooks and even a wig-wearing autocrat: a “fusion of Mrs Gamp, Gary Glitter and the leader of the free world”. What’s not to like?

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