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'A book about becoming who you are'

26 April 2010

'Oranges would not be in print across the world, much less read and taught, 25 years later, if it were just about me. I never wanted me to be just about me, and maybe that's the point. I wanted, through language and through storytelling, to reach something wider and more important than my own circumstances. And that is why gay or not gay is not the point or the purpose of the book. Yes, the book has been vital for a lot of gay people struggling with social prejudice and self-hatred, but Oranges is a book about becoming who you are by means of a story. The opening words, "Like most people..." are the clue. Most people have not grown up the way I did, but the struggle to become who you are is for everyone.

That struggle seems to me to be narrative based: we're back to who can tell the best story. Will it be you, about your own life? Or will you let others tell your story for you? Literature offers us all, writers and readers, the best method of discovering and retelling the changing story of ourselves. The story is both journey and surprise. And as everyone knows, even the past is altered, depending on, not the facts, but the interpretation.'

Jeanette Winterson on her first book, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, in The Times