The Golden Hill author talks about the family tragedy that fed his love of reading, being a middle-class socialist and why he’s trying to ‘scuff off’ the period glow of historical fiction

Francis Spufford kills off all the protagonists of his new novel in the first chapter. “I want the reader to be looking at life as you do when you are aware that the alternative is death,” he explains of Light Perpetual, the follow-up to his award-winning debut, Golden Hill. “I want life and being in time to be less taken for granted than it usually is when we are making our way through the middle, when it is easier to forget that we didn’t exist once and that we won’t exist again later,” he continues cheerfully. “I wanted it to be a picture with death as the frame.”

Related: Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford review – both a requiem and a giving of new life

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