Claire-Louise Bennett in conversation with Ruth Joos
Meet the author
The meetings with writers at Passa Porta, prepared with passion, courage and thoroughness, are more than simply the presentation of literary works. We seek to achieve a genuine connection between writer and reader, and among readers themselves.Go to overview
Claire-Louise Bennett was immediately praised to the skies for her debut, the short-story collection Pond. Now her long-awaited second book has arrived, Checkout 19. Ruth Joos, a fan from the very beginning, talks to the British renegade.
A writers’ writer?
Claire-Louise Bennett hates labels. She doesn’t care for the term ‘cult writer’ and often even refuses to call herself a ‘writer’. It is therefore with some hesitation that we would describe her as a writers’ writer, even though she has been acclaimed by fellow writers such as Deborah Levy, Karl Ove Knausgård and Chris Kraus.
Her first book was to be a play, until Bennett realized that she liked neither the theatre nor actors. So she rewrote the play into a short story that won her the White Review Short Story Prize. She then continued to add stories until the wonderful Pond was born. ‘Bennett’s language is an ornate and long-winded riposte to all those pared-back minimalists, and I love it’, wrote Jon McGregor in The Guardian.
Her new novel, Checkout 19, is an unbridled ode to the imagination, to writing and reading. In a working-class town west of London, a schoolgirl, enchanted by the first sparks of her imagination, jots down stories in her school notebook. As she grows up, everything and everyone turns into fuel for her fiery talent.
A Russian man with an old maroon car drifts into the supermarket where she works as a cashier and hands her a copy of Beyond Good and Evil. The pile of books in which she loses and finds herself keeps on growing.
The excitement with which Bennett evokes characters and scenarios is matched by the joy with which she creates her own path through the world.
about the guests
Claire-Louise Bennett is the author of Pond, shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s and other publications. She lives and works in Galway, Ireland.
Ruth Joos is a radio and TV producer. After her widely acclaimed radio show Joos, she now presents De ochtend every week. Since 2021, together with Wilfried de Jong, she has hosted the VPRO book programme Brommer op zee.
Organization: Passa Porta, Koppernik