‘I have an impressive list’

Doris Lessing can be fierce. But this morning, as you might expect from an 88-year-old woman who has just been awarded the world’s highest literary accolade, she is all smiles and kisses. The stairs of her ramshackle terraced house in West Hampstead are lined with bouquets of flowers. The upstairs living room, which I remember from the last time I interviewed her as slightly gloomy, crowded with towers of books and magazines and oppressive paintings and wall hangings, is today brightened by yet more flowers, all in deep shades of orange and red. “People obviously associate me with sunset,” she says. Her cat is in a sulk, she says, because he hasn’t been getting enough attention because of all the fuss. Yet despite the commotion of the past 24 hours we are alone, though the telephone, set to a piercing shrill – she is going slightly deaf – rings constantly with congratulations. The best, she says with unconcealed glee, was a call from her hero Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “I’ve been terribly touched by the range of people who are pleased for me.”
from Pocket

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