Thanks to The Writer's Almanac online for the following:
It's the birthday of novelist Robert Harris, born in Nottingham, England (1957). In 1987, he was working as an investigative journalist when he decided to take a vacation in Italy. He was lying on the beach, listening to the German tourists talking all around him, when he suddenly imagined that he was living in the victorious German empire. He got up and went swimming in the ocean, and by the time he came back to shore, he had an outline for a novel about what the world would be like if the Nazis had won World War II. That novel was Fatherland (1991), and it became an international best-seller.
Harris went on to write many other books, including Enigma (1995), about British code breakers during World War II, and Archangel (1998), about the search for a secret Stalin diary. His most recent novel is The Fear Index (2011).
Harris said, "It is perfectly legitimate to write novels which are essentially prose poems, but in the end, I think, a novel is like a car, and if you buy a car and grow flowers in it, you're forgetting that the car is designed to take you somewhere else."
Harris took his readers to a darker place in The Ghost (2007), which suggests that the wife of a UK Prime Minister resembling Tony Blair was a CIA agent who kills her husband. The film version by Roman Polanski won many awards and bears re-viewing for its bleak aesthetic and spare, downbeat script.