Samantha Harvey is Reader in creative writing at Bath Spa University and is the author of four novels, 'The Wilderness', 'All Is Song', 'Dear Thief' and 'The Western Wind', and of a memoir, published in January 2020, 'The Shapeless Unease'.
Her novels have been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Guardian First Book Award, the Walter Scott Prize and the James Tait Black Prize, and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Baileys Prize, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and the HWA Gold Crown Award. The Wilderness was the winner of the AMI Literature Award and the Betty Trask Prize, and The Western Wind won the 2019 Staunch Book Prize.
In this episode, Samantha talks to Sam Guglani about ‘The Shapeless Unease’ and how an intense and disturbing experience of insomnia drove her writing and resulted in a book which was “fragmented and disjointed in terms of interest, subjects, tone, voice and register”. As Samantha says, unease is “something that runs deep in you and somehow comes into contact with your sense of self. I tried to find something that was causing my insomnia, to try and decode it…I was deep in this knot of suffering but thought ‘how can I keep finding the most perfect, apt and succinct way of expressing this…writing is the most joyous and liberating thing in the world.’”
Executive producers: Sam Guglani, Peter Thomas
Music: Butterfly Song by Jocelyn Pook, vocal by Melanie Pappenheim, from 'Untold Things', Real World Records, 2001. Permission courtesy of the composer. https://realworldrecords.com/releases/untold-things/