Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to spoke to The Parisian author Isabella Hammad
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Isabella Hammad: As a child I loved Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass. The first grown-up book was probably George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss. It was also I think my first encounter with the word “wench.”
BM: A book that blew your mind?
IH: Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
BM: Last book you read?
IH: Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School
BM: A book that made you cry?
IH: Amy Hempel’s Collected Stories, specifically “The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
IH: Most recently At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald had me cackling quite a bit
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
IH: I keep telling people to read The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère. Does an insistent recommendation count as a gift? I’m not sure, but a lot of people have obeyed me…
BM: Classic book you hate?
IH: I don’t think I liked Villette very much, although hate is a strong word. I didn’t much care for Little Dorrit. Dickens’s female characters can be pretty insipid.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
IH: All of Proust
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
IH: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
IH: This Little Art by Kate Briggs, Then The Fish Swallowed Him by Amir Ahmadi Arian, Forthcoming by Jalal Toufic
Isabella Hammad is the author of The Parisian. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize, the O. Henry Award, and the Palestine Book Award, and is a 2019 National Book Award 5 Under 35 Honoree. She was born in London and lives between London and New York.
Isabella Hammad’s The Parisian is out now in paperback from Grove