The novelist on England in the 50s, his teenage rock band, and how having children changed his writingYour new novel, Expo 58, is set in Belgium in the 50s – why?I’d been looking for a way to write about England in the 1950s but couldn’t find anything at home that grabbed my imagination. I’d spent time in Belgium through a wonderful organisation, Het Beschrijf, that runs a writers-in-residence scheme near Brussels. I was taken to the Atomium [an iconic Brussels building] and found out about Expo 58. I realised how it looms in Belgian consciousness – their greatest moment of post-war glory. I started asking what the British had done at Expo 58. No one in Belgium could remember. I came back here, dug in the archives and found the pavilion had been designed by James Gardner after the success of the Festival of Britain. It had that wonderful air of 1950s modern design. And slap in the middle, Whitbread had stuck a pub: the Britannia. You couldn’t get a more readymade metaphor. I ran with it immediately.You’re a huge name in Europe – more feted than here – where do Belgians come in your European fanbase?Second tier, after France, …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books