So Isabel Wilkerson was on interviewed at(on?) the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and she was great … no surprise there.
Here’s what was a surprise though: each time the interviewer asked her question about Caste, I knew precisely what she was going to say: names, dates, atrocities – popping into life as if I was still reading the book. I don’t think I remember any work (fiction or non-fiction) having such a profound effect on me.
The interview carried on, and Helen and me were swapping messages (she was up in Wales, visiting her parents) while we watched it, and she said she was experiencing the same thing too: she knew Wilkerson’s answers before she said them out loud.
I said, ‘You’re read the book already? That was bloody quick!’
Sshe hadn’t, but since I followed her around the house for a week, throwing out facts and anecdotes, she kind of felt as though she had.
Still, even if you’re annoying significant other has repeated the whole book to you, it’s still worth picking up and reading it for yourself. Wilkerson is an extraordinary writer, and if you’re interested in creative non-fiction, Caste is the best example of this genre I’ve seen in a long time.