Centring on the much-loved character, Lyra Belacqua, the new novel is set 10 years before Northern Lights, and delves deeper into the world of alethiometers, daemons and the Magisterium, while also introducing a host of new characters, including a new hero.
In this evening, Pullman reflects on his writing process, what drew him back to Lyra’s world 22 years after Northern Lights was first published, and why the struggle for freedom of expression against despotic rulers that has been at the heart of his books, is more pressing now than ever.
With totalitarian tendencies on the rise, what are the parallels with Lyra’s world and our own, and how can the substance of dust illuminate our present times?
As Pullman himself comments:
‘Why return to Lyra’s world? Dust. Questions about that mysterious and troubling substance were already causing strife 10 years before His Dark Materials, and at the centre of The Book of Dust is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and enquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free. The idea of Dust suffused His Dark Materials. Little by little through that story the idea of what Dust was became clearer and clearer, but I always wanted to return to it and discover more.’
Philip Pullman is in conversation with Cerys Matthews, award-winning musician, author and broadcaster who programmes and hosts a weekly show on BBC World Service and BBC 6 Music. Her books include the Sunday Times bestseller Hook, Line and Singer (Penguin), Tales from the Deep (Gomer) and Gelert: A Man's Best Friend (Gomer). Cerys is also the founder of The Good Life Experience festival.