People can impose themselves on a room in different ways: Will Self towers over an audience both with his giant height and his substantial intellect.
But the great thing about literature (and Norfolk’s non-conformist attitude) is its ability to level and so perhaps the most cherishable part of Self’s visit to the Norwich Playhouse was an audience member who dared be not entirely positive about the author’s work in the obligatory post-reading Q&A.
That and Self making a surprising reference to JK Rowling and the sorting hat from the Harry Potter tales in a discussion about the liberties an author should or shouldn’t take with fictional characters and the conventions of prose style.
Reading from both his latest novel, Umbrella, and an older collection of short stories, Liver, Self demonstrated the breadth of his skill at both storytelling and wordplay; the latter was particularly well suited to public reading, with the audience in deep laughter.
He is an entertaining and enigmatic man, and his visit was a impressive coup for the Writers’ Centre Norwich.