Interview · Rodrigo Fresán
Jonathan Coe
Jonathan Coe

Jonathan Coe belongs to that gifted British literary generation, including authors such as Amis, Barnes, McEwan, Ishiguro and Rushdie. Ever since his breakthrough novel ‘What a carve up!’ in 1994 – described by Rodrigo Fresán as «an approximation to the atmospheres of Evelyn Waugh filmed by a Terry Gilliam in the midst of the Thatcher era» – Coe has tried to understand his country through satire. He does so with a wistful tone that at times resembles nostalgia while pointing to the latter as one of the ailments of the English society he is writing about. It is a glimpse at the past more closely related to two of his passions alongside literature: music and film. Coe has himself become a professional musician and has collaborated on a number of musical projects. He has also written unforgettable characters dedicated to music: Benjamin Trotter in ‘The Closed Circle’ or, more recently, Calista Frangopoulou in ‘Mr. Wilder and Me‘, his latest novel. This book brings together his three great loves. It features a fictional Billy Wilder based on the filmmaker, who was his «first literary influence». This Wilderian heritage could explain another constant in Coe’s literature: the wise combination of humour, darkness and pain. Perhaps this is why one of his characters says in ‘Middle England’: «Whatever is truly funny always shows the truth».

English with simultaneous translation.

Invitations can be downloaded from 24 September.

Book signing after the event.