To celebrate the paperback release of How the Dead Live, Will Self’s inventive, savage meditation on life after death, Penguin have rejacketed several of Will’s books with stunning new artwork from some of Britain’s foremost contemporary artists.
In an exclusive interview, we asked Will his thoughts on everything from drug addiction and Jewishness to the disintegration of the soul.
You’re involved with many things; journalism, short-stories, novels. Do you regard these as being quite different activities?
I’ve always thought of myself as a writer first and foremost, the whole business of my work is to mediate the world through language, whatever form that language takes. However, that being said, my heart lies in a particular kind of fiction, fiction of the alternative world. The great liberty of the fictional writer is to let the imagination out of the traces and see it gallop off over the horizon.
You display an interest in science fiction, and in the writing of JG Ballard. Was this your childhood reading?
As a child I absolutely gorged myself on sci-fi, I’d eat it in great truckles and sort of chewed it up, I could not get my hands on enough of the stuff. There are certain writers who are kind of science fiction, but something more, like J G Ballard, arguably even somebody like Robert Heinlein and Philip K Dick. I ate these along with the whole mush and brew.