This, of course, is cause for rejoicing. His previous novel, Never Let Me Go is probably as good a book as any published in the last decade. In a recent interview in The Guardian he admits to feeling that he peaked in his 30s, and that now it’s all just trying new things, which is either a brave admission, or a mark of how secure his position is.
The piece also contains the-should-be-horrifying news that Never Let Me Go is being butchered into film form, and will star… Keira Knightley.
As a thought experiment, let us breath deeply and consider what good might come of this. Yes, Knightley’s much vaunted looks will detract from the narrator’s averageness (from which a considerable amount of the novel’s pathos derives). Yes, the film will lack the interiority that made the novel so compelling.
But (and here I pause, and scrape the cloud hard)… I like to think that one reason why poorly written genre books (Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson etc) are so popular is because they are agressively marketed, inevitably to the detriment of more thoughtful books. If Keira Knightleys’ face on the cover makes more people pick up the novel, this is not only one more good book being read, but also, and as importantly, one less bad one too.
(There should probably now be a long, self critical paragraph that deals with my patronising belief that I know what’s best for people, what they should read, what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ etc. Perhaps we can take this as read.)