Tuesday 24 April 2018

The Black Earth by Philip Kazan #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour @pipkazan @AllisonandBusby #TheBlackEarth

1922. When the Turkish Army occupies Smyrna, Zoe Haggitiris escapes with her family, only to lose everything. 
Alone in a sea of desperate strangers, her life is touched, for a moment, by a young English boy, Tom Collyer, also lost, before the compassion of a stranger leads her into a new life. 
Years later when war breaks out, Tom finds himself in Greece and in the chaos of the British retreat, fate will lead him back to Zoe. But he will discover that the war will not end so easily for either of them.

The Black Earth by Philip Kazan was published by Allison and Busby on 18 April 2018. I'm delighted to host the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour today, in partnership with Emma Finnigan PR.

The author joins me today to talk about the books that are special to him in My Life in Books.

My Life in Books - Philip Kazan

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson Still my favourite book of all time. Jansson has a unique, off-kilter sense otherworldliness. Her books are beautifully inventive (and beautifully illustrated), happy, sinister and sad all at once. Moomin Valley is where I go in my happiest daydreams.

The Owl Service by Alan Garner It’s hard to choose my favourite Alan Garner. I read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen first, but The Owl Service was probably the first ‘grown-up’ book I attempted. Garner has an incredible sense of place, and I remember being amazed at how language could create such a strong sense of claustrophobia and strangeness. I probably didn’t understand it at all when I read it the first time, but later it all made sense.

The King Must Die and The Bull From The Sea by Mary Renault My Greek grandmother had been a schoolteacher and she loved ancient Greek legends. Renault is an incredible writer and I vividly remember feeling connected to my Greek self through reading her books and talking about them to my grandma, who always assured me that I was directly descended from Alexander the Great. Wouldn’t that be nice.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves Graves’ two Claudius books were my first proper introduction to historical fiction. Enthralling, immersive and intelligent. We were living in a tiny, damp house with no mains electricity at the time, and Graves’ ancient Rome provided the escape I desperately needed.

Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes Being originally from Notting Hill, this has always been one of my favourite books. The style, the humour, the griminess, the music: it gave me my teenage persona and my record collection, though I never got the Vespa.

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre I went very existentialist in my teens and I’ve never quite shaken it off. The seminal existentialist book, I started to reread it recently and couldn’t make it out at all. It had a massive influence on me at the time, though: that French intellectualism, the idea that writing was an important act.

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens The breadth of Dickens, his humanity, his joyful use of language. No-one explores characters with quite the same relish. I love cities and books about cities, and Our Mutual Friend is one of the greatest London novels: mystery, social commentary, murder, dust heaps.

Anything by Raymond Chandler I think you can make the case that Chandler is one of the absolutely most important writers of the 20th Century. Genre-defining, obviously, but period-defining too. All the Marlowe books are a masterclass in how to tell a story.

The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow Bellow is an incredible writer but I particularly love this one as it’s written by a great writer finding his voice in a totally exuberant story. I love a picaresque and this is one of the best modern examples.

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel I don’t think historical fiction has ever really been done better than this. Mantel is an amazing storyteller but also a beautiful writer. I read A Place of Greater Safety when I was dithering about whether or not to write, and it was a huge inspiration.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry Bleak but amazing, this book absolutely flayed me, in part because my life is connected to India in a number of ways. A Zola-esque tragedy, it is intensely compassionate while being unrelentingly grim.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky I once told an editor that this was the book that had influenced me the most and he’d rolled his eyes. “Every writer says that,” he’d said. I’m not sure that’s actually true but I still haven’t shaken off the incredible power of the writing, the way it takes the reader inside an anguished mind and illuminates the human condition.

Philip Kazan - April 2018

PHILIP KAZAN was born in London and grew-up on Dartmoor. He is the author of two previous novels set in fifteenth-century Florence and the Petroc series following a thirteenth-century adventurer. After living in New York and Vermont, Philip is back on the edge of Dartmoor with his wife and three children.
Follow him on Twitter: @pipkazan 
Author's Website: philipkazan.wordpress.com

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