From his journey of becoming an author, to his books being classified as genre defying, Geoff Dyer, author of ‘But Beautiful’, talks about it all here…

Q: Your books have been seen as ‘Genre-Defying’. Do you think books need to be categorized into one particular genre?

I have written many different books about many different subjects and quite often a particular book is a weird compound of what are normally regarded as  quiet distinct genre, so in some of them there is a combination of sort of literary criticism, autobiography, some fiction, there’s some history, all these kind of things sort of blended into one. And although it is useful for people in a bookstore to be able to go to say, the ‘Gardening Section’ because they’re interested in gardening or military history. I mean, actually, I’m kind of starting to feel that I need a whole section of the bookstore devoted entirely to books like this. We need a section, we need a genre of non-genre specific books.

Q: What is your idea of making non-fiction books interesting?

For me the key thing is that hopefully the reader is aware that the author and reader that they’re on a sort of shared journey of discovery. So, quite often when I begin a book, it’s not that I’m already an expert in a given subject, its more that I am very passionate about a subject and have a great desire to find out more about it and the book is the result.

Q: How did you become an author?

I began by, as, I mean I’ve ended up being a writer in very sort of gradual stages. I started by writing book reviews, short book reviews, then I wrote longer book reviews, then I wrote some other articles which were not book reviews and then I ended up having done quite a lot of that writing up the short and very boring critical book. Then I wrote a novel and I’ve continued like that with this, kind of, ongoing project of self-funded, self-education.

Q: What would be your one piece of advice to aspiring non-fiction authors?

I think the key thing is to make sure that you find a subject that you’re passionately interested in. It doesn’t need to be a subject that you already know a great deal about. It needs to be a subject that you have the potential to find out a great deal about.


A British journalist and writer of several non-fiction books, Geoff Dyer’s ‘But Beautiful’ brought him recognition all over the world. James Wood describes Geoff Dyer’s books in The New Yorker in April, 2009 as, “interesting books about boredom, successful books about failure, complete books about incompleteness,” and that is perhaps the best way to describe this author’s ‘genre-defying’ books!

You could buy ‘But Beautiful’ here: http://bit.ly/1emcUwn

The Penguin India Blog

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