He knew it now: this would be his last novel. He had threatened it before, but this time, he thought, it was true. Beyond the imaginings in India, no feature broke the horizon. He could feel that something had been used up. If he’d stuck to what was familiar and safe, a comfortable tapestry of tea parties and English scenery, he might have kept a quiet industry going, writing numerous books of a similar nature. But the world that interested his was disappearing, or already gone, buried under motor cars and machinery and the smoke of war. Writers should see ahead, not constantly be looking behind them, and his powers couldn’t keep pace with history. There would be no more books like this one.
Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer is a tantalising thing – it’s a novel about a novel; a fictionalised look at the life of EM Forster during the years he spent writing his final book, A Passage to India. And while Galgut’s Forster in the passage above is indeed right – there’s no other book like A Passage to India – there aren’t many books around that are quite like Arctic Summer, either.
I’ve reviewed Arctic Summer for Newtown Review of Books. Click here to take a look.
(Also, if you’re interested, here’s a link to the Paris Review interview with Forster I mention in my review, in which Forster discusses his own Arctic Summer)