Richard Osman: 'I want to be writing novels for the rest of my life now'

The television presenter and debut author on John le Carré, his favourite crime writers and the funniest book in the English language

The book I am currently reading
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. I was about to read The Underground Railroad when I noticed that The Nickel Boys was shorter, which I admire in a book. It is as extraordinary as everyone says and I’m now going to read The Underground Railroad, making the fact that The Nickel Boys was shorter annoyingly moot.

The book I wish I had written
When John le Carré first describes George Smiley, he does it with such economy and humanity it takes your breath away. It is all the more remarkable that this description is on the first page of his first novel, Call for the Dead.

The book that had the greatest influence on my writing
Over the years I have devoured the workof British crime writers -Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Ruth Rendell, Reginald Hill – and their stories have seeped into my bones. But my heart also belongs to the great British humorists: Muriel Spark, PG Wodehouse, Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood.

The book that is most underrated
The funniest book in the English language is Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn. It details the last great days of Fleet Street and the early days of television. The last book that made me cry
Ramita Navai’s City of Lies is a series of beautiful interconnecting true stories about the everyday lives of people living in Tehran. Despite the incredible good humour and resilience there are few happy endings, and I found myself in tears many times.

The book I’m ashamed not to have read
Fair Stood the Wind for France by HE Bates. It was my O-level set text and I didn’t read a word of it.

The book I give as a gift
The Wrestling by Simon Garfield is a brilliant oral history of the golden age of British wrestling and magnificent wider social history.

The book I’d like to be remembered for
The blurb on The Thursday Murder Club says is my “first, and, so far, best novel”. True though this is, I would love to be remembered for my 10th or 20th novel, because I want to be writing them for the rest of my life now.

My earliest reading memory
There is no finer book than The Young Ones Book, the annual of the TV show, which came out when I was 13.

My comfort read
I always go back to Spark and Patricia Highsmith, who come at the human condition from very different angles but each write with such deceptive simplicity. I know one shouldn’t be soothed by Tom Ripley, but I find the thought that he might still be out there somewhere, holed up in the wilds of France, strangely comforting.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman is published by Viking (£14.99). To order a copy go to Delivery charges may apply.


Richard Osman

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