Meet the author: Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones – from New Zealand

Mister Pip by Lloyd Joneswon the 2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker prize.
In January the Berlin intercultural reading groups chose to read Mister Pip in April. Later we discovered that Lloyd Jones was living in Berlin this year .Due to this happy coincidence we were able to invite him to meet the groups. And we were thrilled when he accepted our invitation.
Over 70 people came to the event. Lloyd Jones read from Mister Pip and answered questions from Jan and the audience .We were impressed with Lloyd’s unassuming manner, his humility and humanity.and his sense of humour.

Feedback from the audience

“…….The event of last Wed was well conducted. The atmosphere was genial, the chairwoman, as usual, was at her funny best, and the guest of honour, Mr Jones, was real human and down to earth. Like his book, he showed a lot of humanity and humility. There was no star-allure in him (thank God, there are still people like him). One regret I had though, the whole event was too short. I asked him one question:

“How easy was it for a white man like you to enter the skin of a twelve year old black girl and, be able to write from her point of view?”His answer (jokingly) :’I don’t think that I am white’. Then he went on to explain how one has to see the whole world as one,and to be able to feel forthe other person.

To be honest, I was too engrossed in his gentility,that most of his words flew past me. Sorry. Last, but not least, my gratitude goes also to the New Zealand embassy staff, for their thoughtfulness and kindness as our host. ”

“…I liked especially to meet a New Zealand author, which was the first time for me and his outspoken and fresh way to answer questions and to talk in general. Now I understand my daughter who is so very much in love with the country and its people. It was like a sundowner for me Thanks to you for making events like these possible.

My question to Lloyd Jones was: ‘In my opinion, your book is splitting the readers in 1st class and 2nd class readers: those who have read Great Expectations and those who haven’t. Although the so-called 1st class readers may deny their advantage, I felt a certain disadvantage.On the other hand, I am not willing to read two books of fiction, just to fully enjoy one – at least in fiction, with non-fiction, of course, it would be different.

Can you understand my trace of slight frustration?’ His answer, as I remember it: No, he could not understand my frustration: The reading of ‘Great Expectations’ is not essential for the understanding of ‘Mister Pip’ and if somebody thinks he/she should read it they are free to do it.

My general impression was, that Lloyd Jones as a prize winning author was very considerate and able to illustrate the problems and the historical situation. But I would like to mention that your well-prepared moderation and the engagement of the New Zealand Embassy were also beneficial for the success of this enjoyable event.”

“…. The reading groups really seem to be taking off as a very successful and encouraging example for intercultural work. I enjoyed the evening so much. Although I didn´t have time to read the book, I got a lot of inspiration, and definitely will read it when I have time.”

“… I liked so much your way of questioning and moderating, a very friendly and pleasant way, but very investigative as well, so the conversation became very interesting, lively and not at all predictable. This is how it should be done, and not as in so many readings where people hardly get anything out of it. Please go on with this, in the end you convert us Germans to an easier approach to literature, which is badly needed.”

“… Just wanted to thank you very much for organising this lovely event. It was such a nice atmosphere, my only criticism is that it was too short.. Lloyd Jones is such a nice person, seemingly shy and softspoken but with an original view and a nice sense of humour. And I thought you did such a nice job, you were at the same time alert and flirtacious and motherly and utterly charming- for me it was an important part of a delightful evening. And thanks to the NZ embassy for their generosity.”

“… I enjoyed the meet-the-author-event last week so much. I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about the book Mr. Pip and how it was written and conceptualised. It made me glad to be “a reader” and realise once again the “magic” power of books. I also enjoyed getting an inside-view into the writing process – and I found it very reassuring to hear that even such an experienced writer as Lloyd Jones sometimes struggles with his work. All in all, it was such a fun evening, time just flew by and I think you did a wonderful job facilitating the event, making it so very enjoyable and informative. ”

“… I really liked Lloyd Jones, especially his explanation that you don’t have to be a 14 year old, black girl to write about a 14 year old black girl. And I liked his quoting of David Grossman, that mass media create masses, but literature creates individuals. Of course it’s a bit slogan-like, but still, it is one thing that Jones is telling us with his book, I think. ”

“…The Lloyd Jones event was most interesting and enjoyable : It was the first time I had listened to a speaker from New Zealand, a part of the world I would like to visit very much. It was the first wine from New Zealand I drank, delicious! Getting to know the author makes books become alive, I like to go to readings whenever I can. Having authors from all over the world coming to my Steglitz library is really a treat.

As far as LLoyd Jones is concerned: I had imagined the author to be quite a different person, actually I had imagined him to be somebody like a brother of Matilda. I learned about the historical background of the events described in the book , and I was impressed that the author had in fact tried to reach the blockaded island, which up to then I had never heard of.”

“…. I enjoyed the Lloyd Jones event tremendously. It was very well organised and moderated indeed. I had a very inspiring evening, taking home lots of stimulating thoughts.”

“…I asked Lloyd Jones about the significance of storytelling in “Mr Pip”. I can’t quite remember his exact words, but he said he thought literature was a very important medium to transport stories – much more so than the mass media which he’s very wary of. Literature and reading are important for the development of one’s own imagination as well as expanding one’s horizon.”


“..This was a fascinating cultural event involving one culture of which I have little experience: There were more New Zealanders there than I have encountered in my life so far, and I felt very warmly welcomed by them through the author and the Embassy, which provided wine from New Zealand, cold drinks and pretzels, giving the event a social feel.

“..Those of us who attend the intercultural reading groups organised by Jan Bild already know and value her exceptional skills as a moderator; they came into their own once more in this more formal setting. In her warm, charming, and accommodating manner, she deftly guided the author and us between the author readings, posing her own questions to the author – and she is not satisfied with just superficial questions and praise here – and giving the audience a chance to ask their own questions. She thus ensured that a maximum of highly interesting information was disclosed in the limited time available and that the event was a satisfyingly well-rounded one.”

“..For me personally, this event gripped me more than other readings I’ve been to, be they German ones in Germany or English ones in English-speaking countries. Firstly, I certainly favour the more informal English-style author event, where the audience also has a chance to air their views and pose questions. Secondly, the powerful cultural cocktail: A German institution (Steglitz Library), a New Zealand Institution (Embassy), a New Zealand author, a very multicultural audience, and all initiated by a British lady! Thirdly, even in the limited time, the author and the audience had a small taste of the impact of the book as seen from the perspectives of the various cultures represented in the audience, through the comments and types of questions they asked.”


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