Thursday, September 12, 2013

"The House of Journalists"

Tim Finch works for a London think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research. He was a BBC political journalist and is a former director of communications for the Refugee Council.

Finch applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The House of Journalists, and reported the following:
Here’s how page 69 of The House of Journalists starts.
We reached the regional capital without incident, but the city was tensile with fear. There were reports of rebel forces advancing and there was dwindling confidence that the central government could hold this Northern outpost – or even that it wanted to.
Much of the novel is made up of gripping stories of refugee flight and on page 69 the reader is following a character called Adom in the latter stages of his escape into exile after a genocidal uprising against the corrupt government he has supported.
There were desperate scenes at the airstrip. Shots had to be fired to disperse the crowds so that I and my small party could get through. Angry, desperate, weeping people chased the plane along the red dirt runway. We banked out into a biblical storm; lightning forked down into the black turbulence of the great lake and electrified the jag-toothed mountains. This was the last view I had of my beloved home region. It was as if God was punishing it for its sins.
The immediate drama of this episode is broken at this point (a frequent technique in the novel which is fragmentary, rather than linear, in structure) as Adom reflects on his telling of the story.
I will admit that I crafted it with an eye to Western sensibilities and assumptions, painting the bigger picture in bold blacks and whites, but at the same time placing myself at the centre of the moral complexities, admitting my mistakes and weaknesses, in a way that some in my continent, never mind my country, found naïve, even dangerous. I always had confidence, however, that it would do me credit in the long run. I bank on it still, knowing that a most important telling is to come: before the tribunal.
Here we get to the heart of what The House of Journalists is all about – the ownership and trustworthiness of stories. Each ‘fellow’ of the House knows that his or her story is their most precious possession and their safety depends to a great extent on the effectiveness of their telling of it. And yet around them constantly are people, who may or may not have their best interests in mind, who are trying to re-craft or even requisition these stories.
Visit Tim Finch's Twitter perch, and learn more about The House of Journalists.

Writers Read: Tim Finch.

--Marshal Zeringue