#BooksforPrisoners Advent Calendar Day 5

The #BooksforPrisoners Advent calendar is a ‘Literary Protest’ against the misguided ban on books being sent to UK prisoners. English PEN and the Howard League for Penal Reform have been campaigning against the restrictions, which were introduced in November 2013.

Every day until Christmas, a leading writer recommends a book that they would send to a prisoner.

Today: Nikita Lalwani

The World According to Garp by John Irving. If I was in prison and someone sent me GARP to read, well, I hope I would agree that there is never a wrong time to read this book. Pulsing somewhere in the midst of a blessed constellation of greek tragedy, gender politics and absurd Pythonesque humour, it is a manifesto for love between humans. We encounter all the shape-shifting forms of eros: romantic, parental, filial and friend-love. ‘I have nothing but sympathy for how people behave,’ says Garp, in one of his many almost-wise moments, ‘and nothing but laughter with which to console them.’ The book is full of false endings because it tells us that life can be long – there is often more down the line, and even after the most apocalyptic moments in our personal histories we will probably have to live on a bit more. The best part about this book is that it is an example of how art imitates life imitating art imitating life. Go float your nerd boat on that one.Yeah! Go GARP!’

View the advent calendar here

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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