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NPR Arts & Life

Faber's 'Strange New Things' Is A Tribute To His Wife

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Author Michel Faber writes startling rich character novels. His newest book is about a married couple separated by an unusual distance, a husband on a new planet, a wife back on earth. The level is called "The Book of Strange New Things," and when Faber was writing it he was pulled into some dark places. Here is his story.

MICHAEL FABER: I got fed up with the human race, really. I got a very negative feeling about human potentials. And for a while I thought I might write a book without any human beings in it whatsoever.

Another thing that happened while I was writing this book is that my wife, Eva, was diagnosed with an incurable cancer of the bone marrow. And that, I think, made the book a great deal more about loss, even, than it might have been. In the end, it sort of became like a goodbye to her.

In all of my work, I think I'm exploring the idea that we are aliens to each other, how there is a huge distance that separates us all. I think I was dealing, to some degree, with the distance that my wife Eva was at through being so ill. Because of course, when the person you love has cancer, they are, in a sense, living on planet cancer. They are in a place where you are not. And you can't follow them.

MARTIN: That's the author Michel Faber talking about his new novel, "The Book of Strange New Things" and remembering his wife Eva.

FABER: She would be my first editor and my best reader. And I've lost that now. And I think that's one of the reasons why I've decided that this book will be my last novel. I don't feel right about carrying on when she isn't there. So I think it's probably enough now.

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.