ELLE at JLF: Best of the Fest, Day 1


ELLE at JLF: Best of the Fest, Day 1

Will Self on sex, drugs and Charlie Hebdo

By Deepa Menon  January 21st, 2015

British novelist and journalist Will Self’s conversation with poet Jeet Thayil was that perfect blend of rousing, funny and thought-provoking. This was easily the best session of Day 1 at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2015. Here’s what Self had to say for himself.

On writing under the influence: Self is the author of books like Umbrella, The Quantity Theory Of Insanity and, most recently, Shark. He’s also known for his honest journaling of years of heavy drug use. But those two aspects don’t mix. “You can’t write when you’re high—unless you revise when you’re sober. You need every scrap of lucidity for fiction. Journalism you can do stoned.”

On poets and Jeet Thayil: “What people don’t know about poets is that they have sex constantly. But only with each other. That’s because—present company excluded — poets are all really ugly.” “Jeet’s (Narcopolis) is so full of opium, you can even smoke a bit of the book.”

On Charlie Hebdo: “What is the purpose of satire? I believe the purpose of satire is moral reform. Being offensive for the sake of it doesn’t count. I think it was (American satirist) Finley Peter Dunne who best defined the job of a journalist: to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

Catch Will Self in session again at the JLF, with Alberto Manguel, Amit Chaudhuri, Nicholson Baker and Homi K Bhabha, on 22 January at 5pm at the British Airways Baithak