Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Interview with Amor Towles – A Gentleman in Moscow

May 26th, 2018
Calling All Authors

So I was a little late to the game with Amor Towles’ second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow. Published in 2016, the novel was on the New York Times’ bestseller list for over 40 weeks. It was named a best book of the year by NPR, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. I think I was slightly put off by the storyline – a man spends over thirty years from 1922 to the mid-fifties under house arrest in a Moscow hotel.

Won’t that grow old by page 50, I wondered.

Silly me.  Not only did page 50 sail by,  I was very sorry to reach page 719. The End. What is going to happen to the lovely Sophia? Don’t leave me in the lurch, Amor.

A perk to these Q&A’s – I get the inside track on what happens after it’s all over. Sometimes.

Will there be a sequel? I asked the Manhattan-based author.

No. I’m afraid I am leaving the future of the characters in the capable hands of my readers.

Damn.  On the bright side, Kenneth Branagh is producing and starring in a TV adaptation of the novel. He will play the witty, charming and wise lead character Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov whose life in the grand Metropol Hotel is anything but boring. The count’s days (and nights) are colourful and varied and rich with the times. I spoke to Towles about his inspiration, writing with humour and using the contours of history as a backdrop for character-led narrative. The full interview is posted here in 26, a site for writers to inspire the love of words.

And if one is in the market for a good Latvian stew. Look no further.

Here is Towles’ recipe as it appeared in the Bookclub Cookbook. And below is the count’s mouthwatering description of the comforting dish:

“The onions thoroughly caramelized, the pork slowly braised, and the apricots briefly stewed, the three ingredients come together in a sweet and smoky medley that simultaneously suggests the comfort of a snowed-in tavern and the jangle of a Gypsy tambourine.”

One last question for Towles:

What would you like your obituary to say?

Mr Towles was an ardent fan of early 20thcentury painting, 1950’s jazz, 1970’s cop shows, rock & roll on vinyl, obsolete accessories, manifestoes, breakfast pastries, pasta, liquor, snow-days, Tuscany, Provence, Disneyland, Hollywood, the cast of Casablanca, 007, Captain Kirk, Bob Dylan (early, mid, and late phases), the wee hours, card games, cafés, and the cookies made by both of his grandmothers.

May, 2018