Here and Now: Letters, 2008–2011 by Paul Auster & J M Coetzee - review by James Purdon

James Purdon

Pen Pals

Here and Now: Letters, 2008–2011


Faber & Faber/Harvill Secker 248pp £20

There’s always something slightly uncomfortable about reading other people’s mail, though we’re happy to relax the taboo if the correspondents are famous enough, even more if they’re safely posthumous. It isn’t often that we’re invited to read letters between living writers, which makes Here and Now something of a novelty: a near-current record of correspondence between two major contemporary authors over a three-year period.

According to the book’s blurb, it was J M Coetzee who made the first move by writing to Paul Auster shortly after the two first met in 2008 and proposing an exchange of letters in which they might, ‘God willing, strike sparks off each other’. After the expectations raised by

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