DAVID PLANTE grew up in Providence, RI, within a French-Canadian parish that was palisaded by its language, a French that dated from the time of the first French colonists in the early 17th Century to what was then most of North America, la Nouvelle France. His background was very similar to that of Jack Kerouac, who was brought up in a French-speaking parish in Lowell, MA. Plante has been inspired to write novels rooted in La Nouvelle France, most notably in The Family, a contender for the National Book Award. As a young man, Plante moved to London, where he lived for some 50 years, years in part accounted for in his memoirs Becoming a Londoner and Worlds Apart and in The Pure Lover, an elegy to his 40-year relationship with Nikos Stangos. He has published a number of novels, some referring back to his parish but also expanding into European and Russian settings. He has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker with short stories and profiles of people he knew, including the painter Francis Bacon, the aesthete Harold Acton, and the historian Steven Runciman. His renowned book, Difficult Women, a non-fiction work that profiled Jean Rhys, Sonia Orwell and Germaine Greer, is being reissued by The New York Review of Books Press in 2017. He has dual nationality, American and British, but lives in Lucca, Italy, and Athens, Greece.
For more on David Plante, visit the link below:
The Ghost of Henry James (1970)
Slides (novel) (1971)
Relatives (novel) (1972)
The Darkness of the Body (1974)
Figures in Bright Air (1976)
The Family (1978)
The Country (1980)
The Woods (1982)
Difficult Women (1983)
The Foreigner (1984)
The Catholic (1986)
My Mother’s Pearl Necklace (1987)
The Native (1987)
The Accident (1991)
The Age of Terror (1999)
American Ghosts (2005)
The Pure Lover (2009)
Becoming a Londoner : a diary (2013)
Worlds Apart: a memoir (2015)
Biggest literary influencers:
Perhaps the biggest influence on me was Rachel Ingalls, when we were young and both starting out as writers and talked about writers we admired, among them Ernest Hemingway. Rachel developed her style to be as clear as water and yet with a deep movement in the water. I have tried to write in a similar way. An example of her mastery is the short novel Mrs. Caliban.
Last book read:
Steven Runciman’s The Fall of Constantinople. I am reading a lot about Byzantium.
The book that changed your life:
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. It was read to me by my father, one chapter an evening after supper, before I could read, and the suffering and the compassion of the novel instilled in me my first awareness of the suffering in the world and the compassion for such suffering.
Favorite literary character:
I would say the most lawless characters, and among them Becky Sharpe from Vanity Fair. I was all admiration for her when she threw from a carriage window the dictionary she was awarded, and she went on recklessly from then on, and survived.
Currently working on:
A short novel, Fantasies of the Body, a love relationship between a don and an undergraduate, set in King’s College, Cambridge, where I was in residence.
Words to live by:
“Don’t expect anything.”
Advice to new and aspiring authors:
Go on, go on, go on, but don’t expect anything.
For American Stranger
“Plante’s exquisitely sensitive novel of displacement, isolation, loss, and longing is rendered in intimate, darkly enrapturing scenes of snow, haunted rooms, and desolate wanderings.”
“This emotionally gripping and mystery-swathed novel will keep you entranced, uncertain and feel compelled to read on. We may all be strangers ultimately, and Plante nails that vision in his beautiful, often lyrical prose.”
– Providence Journal
“A questing new work from an accomplished writer – elegant, cerebral…”
– Kirkus Reviews
“…this riveting novel of wandering souls.”
— Library Journal
“An impressively crafted, narrative driven novel of exceptional emotional complexity, “American Stranger” by David Plante is an inherently absorbing read from beginning to end.”
– Midwest Book Reviews
“American Stranger is a beautiful novel, profound and subtle, on the rootlessness of people in worlds foreign to them and their search for self, or what remains of them in that search.”
– Le Monde
“The novel bathes in a strange light, like an aquarium whose water is scandalously clear. It is modern, fast, painful, and reminiscent of some small independent movies, stylish and smart movies like John Yates’ 1969 film John and Mary. The author has an uncanny ability to slip into the shoes of a woman, to know what she is thinking, what she feels.”
– Le Figaro
“There is something magnetic, even hypnotic in American Stranger, a novel born aloft by prayer and incantation. Through the meanderings of Nancy’s journey in love, Plante seizes the eternal theme of the quest for identity, but invests it with a singular aura and transforms a familiar subject into Terra incognita. The question of religion, especially Jewishness, nourishes the novel and gives it its full depth of field.”
– Les InRocks