David Mitchell: ‘I like to be the first to give a child The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

The Cloud Atlas novelist on the inspiration of Italo Calvino and learning from Chinua Achebe and Simone de Beauvoir

The book I am currently reading
I’m juggling, as usual. Madame Zero, Sarah Hall’s recent collection of short stories, which I can’t praise highly enough; Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel, a gritty non-fiction account of the lives of US veterans; a proof of David Peace’s new novel, his best to date to my mind, Patient X, about Japanese writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa; and The Penguin Book of Dutch Short Stories.

The book that changed my life
Some books I read as a kid made me hungry to write – notably Ursula K Le Guin’s– and so gave me a future to day dream about.

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