Miranda France

The Jane Austen of Brazil

When the American poet Elizabeth Bishop arrived in Brazil in 1951, she expected to spend two weeks there and ended up staying 15 years, a time of emotional turbulence and creative productivity. Bishop wrote poetry and prose and translated Latin American writers, including Octavio Paz, but this project, suggested by friends as a way to

Frank Johnson, a magnum and me

The 1996 Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize was won by Miranda France. Here, she shares her experience of winning the award and visiting the Spectator office and then-editor Frank Johnson to get her £3,000 cheque.   Miranda France has since had four books published. Her Shiva Naipaul-winning entry, ‘Bad Times in Buenos Aires’, can be

Bad times in Buenos Aires – Shiva Naipaul Prize, 1996

Miranda France won the Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize in 1996. Her winning essay (below) formed the heart of her first, eponymous book. Two years later she wrote her second book, ‘Don Quixote’s Delusions’, which the Sunday Times described as ‘stimulating to the point of intoxication.’ To learn more about the Shiva Naipaul prize for travel writing, and

The full gothic treatment

Over the coming weeks you are sure to hear a good deal about The Thirteenth Tale. The author of this novel, a teacher of French literature living in Harrogate, has already netted 1.5 million pounds in advance royalties from British and US publishers alone. Foreign deals and film rights will surely garner much more. Comparisons

Sporting in the spa

George Orwell painted an unappetising picture of the typical book reviewer: He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak he will

Great — but uneven like the Andes

Pablo Neruda had three houses in Chile, the most lovely of them at La Isla Negra, on the Pacific coast near Valparaiso. This house is Neruda’s love-song to the sea that inspired so many of his poems. Like a stranded boat on the beach, its timbers creak, a collection of figure-heads loom from the rafters

The mind at the end of its tether

When I interviewed him about his novel Asylum, Patrick McGrath described himself as a ‘psychological novelist’, adding that he would be ‘very happy to spend the next 30 years working through different species of madness’. That was eight years ago, and he seems to be keeping to schedule. Asylum and then Dr Haggard’s Disease were

When seeing is not believing

Waking Raphael has all the ingredients one could hope for from a thriller set in Italy: corruption, art, religion, food and very nasty, mafia-style murders. Among the characters are a prim English art-restorer ripe for unbuttoning, a bimbo television presenter, a dodgy aristo, and a butcher who sings as he slaughters. The result is imaginative

The Paraguayan way

John Gimlette and I both won this magazine’s Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize (awarded for unconventional travel writing) and we both got book deals as a result. Winning the prize changed my life and perhaps it changed Gimlette’s, too. We should toast The Spectator regularly for our good luck. I wrote about the inhabitants of Buenos