I’ve spent some lovely, lazy hours this Christmas browsing through the many wonderful interviews with writers generously posted online by the Paris Review.

One of the interviewers asked English novelist Julian Barnes “What is literature for you?”

There are many answers to that question. The shortest is that it’s the best way of telling the truth; it’s a process of producing grand, beautiful, well-ordered lies that tell more truth than any assemblage of facts. Beyond that, literature is many things, such as delight in, and play with, language; also, a curiously intimate way of communicating with people whom you will never meet.

Read the full Barnes interview (published in 2000) here.