Read an excerpt from Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson:


Two days later, on September 8, I flag down a taxi on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. I have a suitcase with me, and my new umbrella. Draped over my right arm is the cashmere coat my father gave me when I turned eighteen. I’m carrying my passport, several credit cards, and a printout of my boarding pass. Round my neck is my most valuable possession—a small, silver heart-shaped locket containing two pieces of my mother’s hair, one blond and wavy, the other a glinting dark brown, almost metallic. The blond hair is what fell out when she first had chemotherapy. The brown is what grew back. I have closed my deposit account and withdrawn my savings. The money my mother left me. My inheritance. It’s enough to keep me going for a while.


A few hours earlier, at dawn, I walked to the Ponte Mazzini, my phone in my hand. The city sticky-eyed, hungover. Still half-asleep. I stopped next to a lamppost in the middle of the bridge. White mist drifting above the river, a blurred pink sun. Leaning on the parapet, I held my phone out over the water and then let go. I thought I heard it ringing as it fell. Who would be calling so early? Massimo? Dani? I would never know. […] Back in the apartment I downloaded Eraser and cleaned my hard drive, not just deleting my files but overwriting them so as to make retrieval more or less impossible. I left my laptop under the arch on Via Giulia with a note that said free computer. If I’m to pay proper attention, if this is to work, there’s no option but to disconnect, to simplify. From now on, life will register directly, like a tap on the shoulder or a kiss on the lips. It will be felt.

In Conversation: Rupert Thomson and Rebecca Carroll

Thursday October 22, 2015
07:00 pm

Tags: Event



Part 2



Photo Credit: Alan Pryke (Thomson)


“Rupert Thomson is so undervalued, such a pure novelist. He explores what interests him in the way that I most admire. He’s not trying to demonstrate its relevancy or extend his own argument. Instead, each novel is etched into reality by his curiosity.” —Jonathan Lethem, Hopes&Fears


“Written with the pace, verve, and detail of a spy novel, sleek and oddly honest, this is the fascinating story of Katherine Carlyle who mysteriously decides that instead of university and a privileged life she will erase her identity and much of her emotions and go untraceably to the most remote settlement of the Russian north. She is not seeking love. She is determined to have abandoned it.” —James Salter, author of All That Is


Most of us have fantasized about disappearing into a new life, but not many of us actually do it, for better or worse. Rupert Thomson's new novel Katherine Carlyle is about a young woman who sheds her identity in order to come to terms with herself and the death of her mother. Thomson was joined by author and Guardian columnist Rebecca Carroll.



About Katherine Carlyle: 

Katherine Carlye is an IVF baby. Stored as a frozen embryo for eight years, she is then implanted in her mother and given life. By the age of nineteen, Katherine has lost her mother to cancer, and feels her father to be an increasingly distant figure. Instead of going to college, she disappears, telling no one where she has gone. What begins as an attempt to punish her father for his absence gradually becomes a testing ground of his love for her, a coming-to-terms with the death of her mother, and finally the mise-en-scène for a courageous leap to true empowerment.


Written in the beautifully spare, lucid, and cinematic prose Thomson is known for, and powered by his natural gift for storytelling, Katherine Carlyle uses the modern techniques of IVF to throw new light on the myth of origins. It is a profound and moving novel about who we are, and how we are loved.



Rupert Thomson is the author of nine highly acclaimed novels, includingSecrecy; The Insult, which was short-listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize and selected by David Bowie as one of his 100 Must-Read Books of All Time; The Book of Revelation, which was made into a feature film by Ana Kokkinos; and Death of a Murderer, which was short-listed for the Costa Novel of the Year Award. His memoir, This Party’s Got to Stop, was named the Writers’ Guild Non-Fiction Book of the Year. He lives in London.


Rebecca CarrolI is a writer, author and editor. She has published five books of interview-based narrative nonfiction about race in America, including the award-winning Sugar in the Raw, and critically acclaimed Saving the Race. Her essays, cultural commentary, book reviews and feature profiles have appeared in The New York Times, Ebony, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, Marie Claire, GOOD, The Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian, where she writes a regular opinion column.