08 March 2023

Louise Minchin: Books give you a bit of respite from the world

08 March 2023

Louise Minchin said she has an “eclectic taste” when it comes to books.

This is “why it works for me being the chair” of the judging panel for the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction, she said.

The recently announced longlist features a variety of books, spanning the Troubles in Northern Ireland (Trespasses by Louise Kennedy) to a political satire told from the perspective of animals (Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo).

Reflecting on her literary taste growing up, the former BBC Breakfast presenter said: “I was a massive fan of dark stuff, actually – Daphne du Maurier, for example.

“I was always an avid reader – I would read both male and female authors. I also studied Latin American literature at university, I studied Spanish – Isabel Allende is a wonderful Chilean writer.”

Minchin is also “absolutely delighted” her love of reading has passed onto her daughters, Scarlett and Mia, although she doesn’t know “quite how that’s happened”.

She continued: “Reading in this day and age is important, because it teaches you so much about how other people think, and what other different perspectives there are in the world, and different places in the world.”

Particularly “in this day and age when there’s so much thrown at them, and it can be easy to be scrolling”, Minchin said she’s pleased her children read.

“I think what books give you is a bit of respite from the world,” she added.

Referring to the titles on the longlist, Minchin said: “Some of these books deal with hard truths and difficult subjects, but they deal with them in a different way. They give you a bit of time out away from the constant news, information or social media – whatever it is.

“They give you a bit of space to yourself, to be in a world that’s not your own.”

As the chair of the judges for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Minchin said she’s “really passionate about getting women’s voices heard”.

She is joined on the judging panel by novelist Rachel Joyce, writer Bella Mackie – who wrote the bestseller How To Kill Your Family – novelist and short story writer Irenosen Okojie, and Labour MP Tulip Siddiq.

The shortlist will be announced on April 26, with the winner set to be revealed on June 14.

Last year, American-Canadian author Ruth Ozeki took home the prize for The Book Of Form And Emptiness.

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