Sexing The Cherry

September 6, 1990

Sexing the Cherry celebrates the power of the imagination as it playfully juggles with our perception of history and reality.

It is a story about love and sex; lies and truths; and twelve dancing princesses who lived happily ever after, but not with their husbands.

‘A book of innocence and bawdiness, fury and joy…needs to be read and re-read’  The Times

‘Read it and marvel. Jeanette Winterson’s voice is startlingly original, and her imaginative feats are utterly dazzling’ Cosmopolitan

‘Her stories and characters levitate off the page into dancing life… A bold, bizarre and timely book’ Independent

‘Simple prose shows the subtlest of minds behind it, swift, confident and dazzling’  Financial Times

Why did you set this one in the seventeenth century?

I liked the stink of the river and I was thinking about pineapples a lot. The first pineapple was brought to England by John Tradescant in the reign of Charles the First.

Why is this the last book you have set in the past?

I had done what I set out to do and what interested me. The Passion anticipated a long run of literary and not so literary fiction set in the past. By 1989, when STC was published, I really felt that it would be impossible to use that device effectively in the deluge of the stuff that was to follow. My hunch was correct. Just as importantly, I didn’t want to be labelled. I suppose I explained this to myself just recently when I wrote the opening sentence of my latest book. ‘To avoid discovery I stay on the run. To discover things for myself, I stay on the run.’

Do you think of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry as Magic Realism?

No. Anyway, like I said, I hate labels. The stories I like, whether it’s Ariosto, or Rabelais, or Shakespeare, or Cevantes, or Sterne, or Calvino, have always had a large dollop of the unlikely and the miraculous. Before I knew about books, I knew all the Bible and all the fairy stories. To me, a world without miracles is not the real world. So the old chestnut, write about what you know, has a special twist for me.

Even the most solid of things, and the most real, the best-loved and the well-known, are only hand-shadows on the wall. Empty space and points of light.

Publication: September 6, 1990

Publisher: Vintage