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- Earlier last year, following the spate of statues being toppled as part of the Black Lives Matter protests, a protester a long way from Minneapolis – in Broadstairs, Kent – sprayed the words "Dickens Was A Racist" on the Dickens House Museum. The protester was called Ian Driver and he was prompted by a letter that Dickens had written decrying the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Unquestionably, the letter is racist. However, it is strange that Driver had to go all the way to a relatively obscure piece of correspondence by Dickens to become inflamed by his racism, when, in Oliver Twist, in plain sight, and widely known to us for many, many years, has been Fagin. But maybe he doesn't count.
- Extract from Jews Don't Count (TLS Books), as cited in "Left out", The Times Literary Supplement (29 January 2021)
- In May 2020, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. It has been estimated 15 million to 26 million Americans participated in the Black Lives Matter protests which followed.
From the novel Whatever Love Means
- [A]ction restarting action: all we need to reverse inertia is some sense of consequence - some sense that beyond this occurrence there is another, and that they are linked, some sense that life has chapters.
- [H]e felt frustrated, his sense of fate and direction subverted by banalities - the frustration of the man who, having thought himself following his destiny, finds he is actually on the A318 to New Malden.
- That's the thing about your destiny: how are you supposed to know it when it arrives? How are you supposed to recognise it from the random life?