Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Books

No control: A scene from TV's The Handmaid’s Tale

The end is nigh? What our future looks like ... according to dystopian fiction 

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (1948) . The classic piece of dystopian fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a watchword for the all-powerful, omniscient surveillance state envisaged as Airstrip One by Orwell in the years after the Second World War. Its ever-present leader, Big Brother, gave his name to a voyeuristic TV show where the masses watched disparate individuals incarcerated together and only released at the whim of the public who tuned in to watch them every day. That sounds like something from the novel, but obviously it's real life.

Novel number 19: Adele Parks

'I've seen the effects IVF can have, it can be fantastic and exciting but I've also seen the heartbreak... some people don't get the result they long for' 

Once branded one of the chick-lit brigade, Adele Parks is much happier to be sitting firmly in the domestic noir section of book stores these days. The chatty Teesside novelist, who's had a string of international bestsellers, averaging a book a year since her first novel, Playing Away, was published 19 years ago, has long insisted her work should not be branded pink and fluffy.

Elizabeth Gilbert at Brooks Hotel

Elizabeth Gilbert: I thought that grief would look a certain way. Just a lot of weeping and loneliness. To my surprise I was in a blaze of rage for months 

In 2006, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book that sold more than 12 million copies, became a movie starring Julia Roberts, and led to Time magazine naming Gilbert one of the 100 most influential people in the world. That book, Eat Pray Love, tells the story of Elizabeth's brutal depression and divorce, and subsequent personal odyssey through Italy, India and Indonesia, where she ate, prayed and eventually loved her way back to happiness. The story ended with her meeting the man who would eventually become her second husband.

Amiable author: David Nicholls

David Nicholls: I'm not buying sports cars or any of those cliches, I'm not having a mid-life crisis ... the danger is you become backward-looking and I don't want to do that 

He's achieved massive success with his bestselling novels, including One Day and Us, and is also in huge demand for his screenwriting skills. Yet, David Nicholls admits he is constantly anxious. Meeting the amiable author, who is softly spoken and naturally quite shy, you get the impression that he's more comfortable putting his heartfelt emotions, humour and nostalgic thoughts down on paper than saying them in person.

Name game: Taffy Brodesser-Akner is known for interviewing celebrities

'I feel sorry for stars having to talk about themselves' 

Taffy Brodesser-Akner would like to take this opportunity to come out officially as Tom Hiddleston's "mystery brunette". In January 2017, paparazzi snaps of the American journalist with the British actor outside his north London home wound up in a UK tabloid. The article, headlined "Moving Swift-ly on?", referenced the duo's "cosy chat" and described Brodesser-Akner as "the brunette who couldn't quite believe her luck". They were right.

Helping hand: Dr Amanda Brown

'The thing I find most overpowering is how many of these poor women are victims of abuse... I want to try to be somebody who is on their side' 

She has treated some of the country's most dangerous criminals, from drug dealers to psychopaths. Indeed, Dr Amanda Brown has witnessed more horrific injuries than you'd see in an average slasher movie, from slit throats and boiling sugar water attacks (boiling water and sugar makes a solution like acid) to one prisoner who had put razor blades up his rectum.


From Belfast Telegraph