Recently we read an excellent long essay by Andrew O’Hagan in The London Review of Books (Vol 36 no. 5) about his attempt to work with Julian Assange on his autobiography. This brought to mind another ghost who in 2004 after being hidden for almost 20 years made a very public revelation of her ghosting in a book of the same name.
Jennie Erdal met the publisher Naim Attallah when she was an editor and translator of modern Russian literature, but he quickly sensed she had other talents he could use. Her book is an apologia for her years in thrall to this man Private Eye called ‘disgusting’. Of course the relationship was all about money. Her husband had left her, she had three children and was in danger of losing her house, so she became Attallah’s literary alter ego. Over the years she wrote nine volumes of interviews in his name. He revelled in the literary fame but it was never enough. Inevitably, he wanted to be known as a novelist. He got two novels out of her. She tried to escape several times, but it wasn’t until his finances began to dry up that she got the courage to do it.
Then in her first book under her own name, Ghosting she exposed him. And herself.
Andrew O’Hagan’s is a very different story which we will discuss in Ghosts ( 2)