Jo Baker's latest novel is A Country Road, A Tree. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: Why did you decide to focus on the writer Samuel Beckett's experiences during World War II in your new novel?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I’ve been fascinated by Beckett ever since I studied his work for my MA in Irish Writing at the Queen’s University of Belfast.
Before my MA I’d done a very traditional Eng. Lit. degree at Oxford. It was a brisk trot through the English canon (and it was very much “English” English, rather than anything wider) from Beowulf to Virginia Woolf. After that, Beckett’s work seemed like something from a different planet.
I didn’t realize it at the time but what we were looking at was Beckett’s wartime and post-war work. Those blasted landscapes and battered, persecuted characters – the work we think of as “Beckettian.”
It was only when I read, independently, the early work that I realized what a radical change had been effected between these two phases. The early work could almost have been written by a different person; it was certainly written by someone who was heavily influenced by James Joyce.
I was fascinated by...[read on]