Pete Hamill is a New York City-based journalist, novelist, essayist and short story writer.
A Killing for Christ; The Gift; Tales of New York; The Invisible City: A New York Sketchbook; Tokyo Sketches
2005 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists; 2010 Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from St. John’s University; Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University
Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In elegantly crafted prose, we are given here a very American mixture of poetry, ambition, lies, delusions and aching pity. It remains our deepest prose version of the blues.
Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?
My mother was crucial. She and my father were Irish immigrants, but she was the reader. She first took me to the Brooklyn Public Library before I could read, and showed me the endless treasures in the stacks.
Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?
The one that first knocked me for a loop was The Story of Babar, by Jean de Brunhoff. Later, when I could read and could make my own choices, it was Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, with the illustrations by N.C. Wyeth.
Canada Short stories by Alice Munro, A Passion in Rome by Morley Callaghan, and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordechai Richler
France On Love by Stendhal, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, everything by Albert Camus, Passing Time by Michel Butor, Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac, and Under Fire by Henri Barbusse
Germany Death in Venice by Thomas Mann and The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
Italy Diaries by Cesare Pavese, Conversations in Sicily by Elio Vittorini, The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia,The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, and the short stories of Alberto Moravia. Then there are Boccaccio, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius...
Japan The River Sumida by Kafū Nagai, Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata and Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe
United Kingdom Everything by Charles Dickens, everything by George Orwell, short stories by V.S. Pritchett, The Unquiet Grave by Cyril Connolly and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. A list that would fill pages...
Russia The stories and plays of Anton Chekov, A Sportsman's Sketches by Ivan Turgenev, The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak and Dostoevsky, of course.