Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Alan Furst

Alan Furst put his latest novel, The Foreign Correspondent, to the Page 99 Test. The results will be posted in a week or so.

Meanwhile, Furst fans may look in on his BookPage interview with Jay MacDonald from last summer. It opens:

Alan Furst admits he's "not entirely clear" on how he came to be the pre-eminent American writer of World War II spy novels. Beginning with Night Soldiers in 1988, the former journalist has written nine critically acclaimed espionage novels, including his latest, The Foreign Correspondent.

As the grandson of Jewish immigrants growing up in Manhattan, the only spy novels Furst read were by Eric Ambler and Ian Fleming, escapist fare with little grounding in reality. Then, on a 1983 travel story assignment for Esquire, he visited the Soviet Union, his ancestral home, for the first time.

"It was an enormous epiphany for me," Furst says by phone from his apartment in Paris. "I was back where I'd come from and there wasn't any question about that." Furst was frustrated that the Russians dictated when and where he could travel, all with the goal of converting his American dollars into rubles. "I had no desire to go to Moscow; the Russians made you go. If you wanted to go to the Danube, they wouldn't let you go there. My whole life turned on them being such jerks about it."

Read on.

--Marshal Zeringue