I grew up loving novels about unforgettable friendships. Movies, too. To me it was heaven to be Tom Sawyer, but only because of Huck. Growing up in Scotland, I remember finding The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien and feeling gripped by the friendship of Cait and Baba. In Rob Reiner’s 1980s classic Stand By Me one of the characters sums the whole thing up: ‘I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.’
Mayflies, my own novel of friendship, is published this coming September. It’s a book full of the comedy and familiarity of being young together, pooling your funds and driving hard towards the good times, knowing it all must end. I set out to write a book for everyone who had loved or lost a dear friend, or who had a whole group of them, and to tell an intimate story of what can happen to them thirty years on, when adult concerns take over. It’s a book that takes you by the hand and shows you the power and the limits of loyalty. I was haunted by the story. A good book should be like a friend you waited for.
Andrew O’Hagan was born in Glasgow. He has been nominated for the Booker Prize, was voted one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2003, and he won the E.M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is Editor-at-Large of the London Review of Books and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. www.andrewohagan.com