5 Questions with John Sayles, Author of Jamie MacGillivray: The Renegade’s Journey

Mar 1, 2023

John Sayles is an American independent film director, screenwriter, actor, and novelist. He has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, for Passion Fish (1992) and Lone Star (1996) and directed the critically acclaimed Matewan (1987). He has written seven novels, the most recent being Yellow Earth (2020) and A Moment in the Sun (2011).

John Sayles will be reading from his new novel Jamie MacGillivray: The Renegade’s Journey (a novel) published by Melville House at City Lights on Thursday, March 2, 2023, 6:30 PM PST. This event will be both broadcast online and take place inside City Lights Bookstore located at 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco.

1. Where are you writing to us from?

I’m writing from Los Angeles where I’m recovering from a total knee replacement.

2. What is bringing you joy right now, personally/artistically/habitually?

Being able to bend my knee a little more every day. Sunshine. Seeing friends. Having time to read and watch movies.

3. Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?

For Jamie MacGillivray, I read a lot of Dickens, Smollet, Fielding, and looked at Hogarth’s drawings and paintings. I think the most influential writers on me wanting to write myself were Nelson Algren, Eudora Welty and Thomas Pynchon.

4. What books are you reading right now and would you recommend any to others?

At the moment I’m reading Swing Time by Zadie Smith, the only of her books I haven’t read before, and A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest Gaines—both highly recommended.

5. If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?

If I had a bookstore, it would be somewhere sunny, and instead of bestsellers I’d have an Author of the Week, somebody I felt like deserved a larger readership, with their books displayed in a special section.

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