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Alan Hollinghurst: Why I write about gay experience

Alan Hollinghurst’s novels trace the social history of homosexuality in elegant prose. He tells Razia Iqbal why he wouldn’t write a book without gay characters – and reflects on the death of Margaret Thatcher.

Alan Hollinghurst is a master stylist whose critically-acclaimed novels have transformed the literary landscape. Among other things they trace the social history of homosexuality from the early 20th Century to the present day.

Hollinghurst’s first novel, The Swimming Pool Library, appeared in 1988. Immediately, the hallmarks of his writing were clear: dislikeable but interesting characters, elegantly modulated prose and frank depiction of gay sex. In 2004 The Line of Beauty – his story of a middle-class young man seduced by the glittering world of a wealthy, well-connected family – won the Booker Prize. His next novel, The Stanger’s Child, made the longlist for the prize in 2011, but controversially missed out on a spot on the shortlist.

He tells Razia Iqbal why he thinks he will always write books that deal in some way with gay experience, and reflects on the public reaction to the death of Margaret Thatcher – a figure who looms large over his Booker-winning novel.

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