Richard Schwartz was born in Harare, Zimbabwe (then Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia). He came to the UK in 1973 to study. In 1977, he moved to Greece, where he taught for three years, then in 1980 to France. He returned to London in 1985 and now works mainly as a financial journalist. Since 1981 he has also kept a few toes in Zimbabwe. Richard has written one book on global custody (what's that? who cares?) and one on Zimbabwe's foreign policy. He is married to Lisa Neidich. They have two kids, Ethan, 13, and Eliana, 11. Richard blogs at The Non-Bloggish Blog.
Why do you blog? > As an overflow pipe to stop the brain from flooding; hence, the erratic pace of posting on my blog.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Finding out after my first post that Judith at Kesher Talk once owned the same obscure Electric Prunes album.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > George Steiner.
What are you reading at the moment? > Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee; Fabulous Small Jews, a book of short stories by Joseph Epstein, about jaded middle-aged men; and The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa (which I'll be reading for some time to come).
Who are your cultural heroes? > Primo Levi.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee, or The Wrench by Primo Levi.
What is your favourite poem? > Paul Celan's 'Death Fugue', though my favourite poets are probably Yehuda Amichai and Miroslav Holub.
What is your favourite movie? > Cabaret. But the film that had the most immediate impact on me was Louis Malle's Au revoir les enfants. The film that I think is the most important I've ever seen is Claude Lanzmann's Shoah.
What is your favourite song? > 'Story of Isaac' by Leonard Cohen (though I waver).
Who is your favourite composer? > Bach.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I used to think that common ownership of the means of production would be a good idea.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That personal actions have direct consequences and that responsibility must be assumed for those consequences by each person whose actions they are; no political buck-passing. Does that have a name?
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Fascism (the real thing).
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Language and Silence by George Steiner. It shows how the meaning of words can be deformed and the deformation be adopted en masse.
Who are your political heroes? > Vaclav Havel; Joe Slovo; Pierre Mendes-France. (I like my heroes flawed.)
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Narrow-mindedness and ideological rigidity.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Reasonableness.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'The fish stinks from the head down' (Greek).
What would you call your autobiography? > Book of the Year.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Kris Kristofferson.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > New York.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Schwartz.
What talent would you most like to have? > The ability to talk to zebras.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > (Highly successful) folk singer or owner/manager of (vastly profitable, multinational) bookshop chain.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Lenny Bruce.
Which English Premiership football team and which baseball team do you support? > Manchester United and the New York Yankees (neither with great fervour). I'm more of a cricket fan.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd move from the Virgin Economy Wine Tour subscription to the Premium.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Assuming I'd be inviting them for the same evening: Karl Marx, Doris Lessing and Johnny Cash.
What animal would you most like to be? > An anteater.