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This interview is taken from PN Review 182, Volume 34 Number 6, July - August 2008.

In Conversation with John Fuller Andrew McNeillie


ANDREW MCNEILLIE: Let's dive in at the deep-end straight away. I always feel that you don't belong anywhere, not even in Oxford. Tell me about places and not belonging.


JOHN FULLER: What is belonging? It sounds too much like longing to be somewhere where one hasn't been quite welcome to be a comfortable thing. Perhaps it's because most of us feel uprooted now, is it? By ancestry I am a Yorkshireman (I trace myself back to wool carders and farriers) but was soon enough a sort of Londoner. But I was displaced very early on, by the war. If I originally belonged anywhere it was in my grandmother's house in Blackpool. I have written about that (albeit very heavily fictionalised) in my novel The Burning Boys. Since I went to a London boarding school in the late 1940s and from there to the RAF for National Service, my displacement was severely extended. I don't think I ever much liked London. Oxford after forty years suits me very well as a city of the right size, but my adopted places have needed mountain heights and fastnesses close to a mysterious and liberating sea. I have written most freely and happily in Wales and Corsica. I'm sure that you as a multiple Celt understand that very well. It's needing the green world, and admiring local traditions and independence, and it's closing in on family and quietness, that sort of thing. But I get ...


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