Franschhoek Valley was, in recent memory, a simple place with some notable vineyards and two or three streets of Victorian cottages and a few older, thatched houses. The valley was settled early in the 1680s by Huguenots fleeing repression.

Winning the Whitbread was a very major thing for me. I'd always been well reviewed, but this made me widely read.

My own interest in Kafka's letter came about when I was writing an article on Peter Ginz, the boy novelist held in Terezin, not far from Prague, and exterminated in Auschwitz by the Nazis. The Ginz family were from more or less the same milieu as the Kafkas.

This is the strange thing about South Africa - for all its corruption and crime, it seems to offer a stimulating sense that anything is possible.

The book that meant most to me was 'The Wind in the Willows.' It sounds ridiculous, but that was my vision of England.

There's this idea of bankers retiring and painting watercolours. You can't dabble in art - it's a life. Being a writer, an artist... is a whole life.

Weimar lasted 14 years, the Third Reich only 12. Yet Weimar is always seen as a prelude to the Third Reich, which appears to have been created by Weimar's failures.

Germany led the world in photography and film: 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' and 'Metropolis' are works that, to this day, film buffs revere.

I always assumed I could never make a living out of literary fiction, and I was right. When I did try, it took four years before being published.

The great thing about the public is that they're quite capable of believing two absolutely contrary views at the same time.

The book tour is a strange institution. You are wheeled about to explain your book and even to justify it.

The fascination with Judas has persisted despite the fact that there is no evidence of the hard facts of his life. Even the 'Iscariot' attached to him may be nothing more significant than a corruption of the name of the town from which he came.

It is a commonplace to say that novelists should be judged by their work rather than their private lives or their publicly expressed views. And writers, of course, subscribe enthusiastically to this idea.

As I read 'The Infinities', with its magical, playful richness, its sensuous delight in the power of language to convey the strangeness and beauty of being human, I wondered if J. M. Coetzee, with his bleak, pared-down, elemental view of the world, had ever read a Banville and, if he had, whether he had envied him his astonishing powers.

I have worshipped Berlin from the day I read 'Two Concepts of Liberty' in South Africa. It seemed to make it respectable to be a liberal.

I'm not an especially male novelist, but I think men are better at writing about men, and the same is true for women. Reading Saul Bellow is a revelation, but he can't write women. There are exceptions, like Marilynne Robinson's 'Gilead,' but generally, I think it's true.

This Oscar Pistorius business is interesting. There is this cult of carrying lots of guns and being ready to shoot somebody. There were people I knew had guns and carried them openly around Johannesburg. It is frowned on now to carry a gun, but Pistorius and co. got away with it.

Homer Collyer's chosen form of self-expression is the piano, although late in life, when his hearing also goes, he takes to writing.

'The Infinities' is a shortish book but densely loaded with Nabokovian slyness, gorgeous imagery, and disturbing insights into what it means to be mortal.

Peter Stanford is a writer on religious and ethical matters. He was for four years editor of the 'Catholic Herald.'

Helen Zille, formidable leader of the Democratic Alliance, routinely vilified as representing white interests only, is trying to make sure everyone knows that the case against Zuma is strong and is trying to have it investigated in a judicial review.

As Eric Weitz argues, the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was not responsible for the Reich; it was a democratic, socially aware and progressive government, way ahead of many other European governments in its introduction of workers' rights, public housing, unemployment benefit and suffrage for women.

The successful advertising agent is the one who can convince the clients that he knows something they don't.

Not many people like Johannesburg, but I love the place.

Just before the opening of the 20th century, the Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley, are born into great privilege on the Upper East Side of New York, in a mansion overlooking Central Park.

The druidical claims for Stonehenge seem to belong to that bonkers-but-persistent strand of Englishness that believes there is something particularly mystical about the English themselves, who were clearly a chosen people.

It is true that it is usually for their books that novelists reserve their most considered and ordered thoughts, but the fact is they arise inescapably from one consciousness: the same one that is occupied in all the other activities which make up a life.

I write from what I take to be the realist's point of view, looking at life as it really is - or the way I see it to be.

Coffee must be treated gently and smoothed out. I hadn't realised it was so temperamental.

It's true that all my novels have been versions of myself to some degree.

The Bodleian Library, next to the Sheldonian, is one of the great libraries of the world. As well as holding most of the books printed in England since the first quarter of the 17th century, it houses priceless printed texts, manuscripts, and collections.

It is surprising how many people who don't read believe they have a book in them. Why? Nobody would imagine that Alfred Brendel took up the piano on a whim at 25 when he found accountancy unpleasant.

I love Franschhoek, and straight off the plane, I went to the incomparable Quartier Francais, on the main street, for breakfast. This small hotel and restaurant is regularly near the top of every poll for best hotel and restaurant in Africa.

When I wrote my first serious novel, 'Interior', I was inspired by a 1978 book of Updike's, 'The Coup', which is set in Africa and will come as a delightful surprise to anyone who has only read his Americana.

So often in English fiction, people are either upper-class twits, or else they're knockabouts, less than human.

Historians and journalists always have agendas, but if I want to find out what's going on in South Africa, I read Nadine Gordimer or John Coetzee because they offer novelistic truth.

'Point Omega' starts in an art gallery, where an unnamed man is watching, day after day, a 24-hour version of 'Psycho,' an installation that was created by the Scottish artist, Douglas Gordon. In it, the events and the minutiae of Hitchcock's film are painfully slowly reproduced; the watcher is obsessed with the detail revealed.

Complete barista-standard coffee machines cost from £1,600 to more than £20,000.

Franschhoek - French Corner - is a place which serves South Africans as a kind of sophisticated fantasy, an alternative version of what life could be. The small town is enclosed by wild mountains, at this time of year blue and dusty green.

Advertising, the product of capitalism, can only justify itself on the premise that the market is a force for good.

We authors certainly don't know what is going to happen to our books. Are they going to disappear into the ether, following music downloads, or are ebooks going to open up a whole new world of readers? And how much are we being paid per copy? We haven't a clue.

I suppose on the filmmaking side, you can learn how to cram a lot into a small space. But I think that advertising, even on what is called the creative side, is incredibly easy if you have that kind of mind. A lot of people regard it as Machiavellian and dangerous, but, in fact, it is morally neutral.

Transport is not a ministry the ambitious should accept: no transport minister has gone on to be prime minister.

'The Cauliflower' is full of these bizarre anecdotes, some of them petty, others moving or whimsical, as its many characters try to make sense of the universe in which they live - a universe strange, febrile, and utterly unique.

Someone once pointed out that there are quite a lot of animals in my books, and I'm sure that is something to do with 'The Wind in the Willows.' I must have picked up a rather anthropomorphic view of them.

I was lucky to get to Oxford. I am now an honorary fellow of my old college, which is nice, particularly for a colonial like me.

The working-class Africans are not doing very well, and one of the problems is their education is so shocking. It is routinely said it is a result of apartheid. Deliberately, black people were not allowed to know too much. They could read and write a bit to be useful, but that's about it.

'Powers of Persuasion: The Story of British Advertising' by Winston Fletcher - the impression you get from reading this book, which covers post-war advertising until the present, is of a chaotic, self-serving, occasionally brilliant but ultimately shallow business.

It was my idea to do a two-hour course of barista training. I was keen to learn how to finish off my coffee with a picture of a heart or a palm tree or, perhaps, a swan.