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'Write as if your parents are dead'

25 March 2013

'Philip Roth once said to me years ago, when he took an interest in me as a young writer: you've got to write as if your parents are dead. It was very good advice, and I stuck to it, and now I look back with some horror. My father, especially, was torn between exultant pride that I'd published a book and sheer horror at what was in it. So I must have had a steely bit of detachment then. But I've never done what Bellow did in Herzog, or Roth, or Hanif (Kureishi)... put their ex-wives in books. I couldn't do that. My chip of ice is a bit... slushy.'

Ian McEwan, whose latest book is Sweet Tooth, in the Observer