An author who came from Nottingham has recently died.
Alan Sillitoe, the author of the kitchen-sink classics Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, has died at the age of 82, it was announced yesterday. His two most famous novels, which eclipsed his prolific later work, celebrated the quiet heroism and unsung adventures of provincial working-class existence in the humdrum surroundings of post-war Britain.
Though I’ve not read any of his work, I understand much of it was representative of working class life in the region. I keep meaning to engage with the works of more local authors.
When I moved to the city a few years ago, it was a new area where I knew no one. And one of the sacrifices of being a writer with a full-time job is that the discipline forces you to take a half-arsed effort at engaging in a new social life. I actually found reading D.H. Lawrence quite a good way to make the city and its surrounding countryside feel more like a home. I’m searching for a more eloquent and imaginative way of putting it, but there was something pretty cool about learning about the same local landscape through the eyes of a writer, hearing briefly about how characters experienced the region, even if it was the best part of a century ago. It adds a whole new layer the place when you move to an area. It’s as if you’re privy to information few others in your street know about – local advice. The landscape becomes familiar, and that’s what helps make something a home, surely?
I know it’s probably not quite easy to do this through the secondary world books that make up a good percentage of the genre, but I wonder how many others have explored the local history and culture through local writers? How many people even know, even care, what the local novels are?