This week’s Author of the Week is the brilliant Mike Gayle sharing his heartwarming & relevant book for these times, All The Lonely People.
All The Lonely People is a story that follows the life of the loveable, Hubert Bird. Every week Hubert has a weekly call with his daughter from Australia. When he speaks to his daughter he paints a picture of a supposedly idyllic retirement. He talks of West End shows he has been to, gardening centres he has visited & friends he has spent time with. Unfortunately for Hubert, these stories that he tells his daughter are not true. In fact, Hubert is a very lonely soul.
When Hubert’s daughter informs him she is returning home suddenly Hubert has to try replicate these stories he has told his daughter. So Hubert must make friends, go on outings & recreate his life. As Hubert is a Jamaican man who migrated to England in the 1950’s, one gets a sense that the cheap labour culture at the time & the terrible conditions for a migrant in these times contributed to his sense of loneliness. This is a book of the times that speaks to the many issues faced by society, in an easily digestible, warm & uplifting way.
We hope you enjoyed this chat as much as we did!
What’s in this chat:
- Mike on his parent’s immigrant history in the 1960’s in London & the similarities and differences in Hubert’s story & other first generation migrants in England.
- The experience of many Caribbean immigrants in early London & the attitudes of the times.
- Mike on the timing of the novel with race & loneliness being key focuses of the book, as well as the current social climate of COVID-19 & the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Mike on the world suddenly realising racism & loneliness exist, when these issues have always been pervasive in society. “These two topics are very hot, but at the same time these are things that have always been there.”
- Mike on second generation immigrants & the sense of freedom & the ability to fulfil their dreams.
- The trajectory of loneliness over time & Mike’s ability to create 40 years of plot.
- Mike on his foray into historical fiction. “It was terrifying”. “I didn’t want to do any research, I didn’t want to do anything… but actually it was one of the things I liked doing the most.”
- Mike on taking risks: “It was a really nice experience because you’ve got deadlines, you’ve got so many different pressures. The temptation is always to play it safe, and so its nice to take a risk & see it pay off.”
- Mike on the themes of the book: Loneliness, race, community & the power of change from grassroots.
- What’s next for Mike & writing in COVID times.
- The common themes in Mikes books: it’s about everyday, it’s about normal people living normal lives & the effects COVID has had on Mike’s writing.
- The Museum of Ordinary People: Mike’s new book in the pipeline.
- Mike on his writing process: how many books a year, what does his day look like & how he structures his time. “As a writer you need deadlines.”
- Deadlines & the imminent “wagging finger”.
- Imogen & Mike on War Child & ‘the old gang’ such as Freya North, Lisa Jewell plus the Girls Night Out, Boys Night In collection of young writers in 2001.
- Imogen & Mike on the community of writers, “I’ve never met a nicer bunch of people.”
- Raising 1 million pounds for War Child “It was ordinary people having an idea & making it happen.”