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Tan Twan Eng talks to Alex Clark

The House of Doors

Hay Festival 2023, 

Booker Prize-shortlisted Tan Twan Eng returns to discuss his first novel in more than a decade with journalist and editor Alex Clark. A novel about love and betrayal set in 1920s Penang, The House of Doors is based on the true story behind W Somerset Maugham’s short story The Letter, and features the writer as a character. Willie is beleaguered by an unhappy marriage, ill health and financial worries, and struggling to write. With his charming secretary Gerald, Willie arrives at an old friend’s house, and strikes up a friendship with his wife Lesley. The pair share their secrets with each other, including Lesley’s connection to the case of an Englishwoman charged with murder in the Kuala Lumpur courts – a tragedy drawn from fact, and worthy of fiction.

Tan Twan Eng talks to Alex Clark