I’ve wanted to be an arts critic since I was as a teenager when I wrote movie reviews for the school newspaper and made myself unpopular by panning the school show. I am fascinated by art — what drives us to paint paintings or write stories, I wonder — and have always seen cultural journalism as the best way to engage with the arts, affording the non-artist a privileged seat at the front of the house.
Then I found I had a novel rocketing around in my head. When I published Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen in 2003, a friend said “Now you are a real artist.” Maybe. I just think of myself as a writer and when it comes to mixing journalism and fiction, I’ll have to rely on a sports metaphor. Daily journalism is a sprint; it trains the writer for the marathon that is fiction. Fiction, meanwhile, teaches an endurance and focus that deepen the journalism.