Photograph by Joseph Maida
Young, photogenic, and married to literary crush object Zadie Smith, the 33-year-old Northern Irish author Nick Laird could get away with being complacent. Which just makes his biting second novel, Glover's Mistake [Viking, $26]—an Internet-age remix of Othello set in the London art scene—that much more impressive.
Q: A lot of people thought your first novel, Utterly Monkey, was about your relationship with your wife. Did that annoy you?
A: I was stupid, and I should've known it. But the first book wasn't autobiographical at all, except that the guy was a lawyer and Northern Irish and had a black girlfriend. The book was about a bombing and a terrorist! But that stuff doesn't bother me.
Q: This novel appears to be a typical urban love triangle but gradually turns into something really creepy and intense. What inspired you?
A:I wanted to write a book about a younger man and an older woman. Whenever you sit down to write a novel, I suppose, you want to think, What could I write about that I couldnt have written about 10 years ago? The plotline is classic: Boy meets girl, there's another boy involved, all that. But the Internet is changing how we interact.
Q: When novels reference the Internet a lot, it's often gimmicky, but in your book it feels organic.
A:I use the Internet, obviously, but I don't have a blog or follow blogs. It's incredibly addictive. When I lived in London a few years ago, I had to cut through my Internet connection with a pair of nail scissors. Every five minutes I was checking my e-mail. David's a bit like that.