Eli Goldstone has cleaner, model, office administrator and bookseller on her CV. Now, after the recent release of her debut novel, Strange Heart Beating, she can add acclaimed author to that eclectic list. Any regular bookshop dweller will have noticed the cover: an arty illustration of a woman’s head and a swan that’s fit for framing. And it’s no less poetic on the inside. Eli – a 31-year-old graduate of the City University Creative Writing (Novels) MA – has woven a powerful story about a woman named Leda, whose husband goes in search of her past after she is killed. The 2016 Baileys Prize winner Lisa McInerney says it’s “a beautiful and rare thing… so ferocious, sweeping its reader towards wholly devastating realisations.” As the book notches up admirers, we spoke to Eli about the literary influences in her life.

Matilda Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death – Hilaire Belloc

I particularly remember reading this as a child. My mum bought this for me because I had a very vivid imagination and would regularly tell extravagant lies, especially to my friends. I can remember the final verse in its entirety despite not having read it for upwards of twenty years: “For every time she shouted ‘Fire!’ / They only answered ‘Little liar!’ / And therefore when her Aunt returned / Matilda, and the house, were burned.”

A Manual for Cleaning Women – Lucia Berlin

It’s a wonderful book and I can’t imagine anyone reading it and not being changed. I read A Manual for Cleaning Women in Mexico and made so many underlinings – it was one of those books where I loved it so much I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to put it in my mouth. When I revisit it now it sends sparks through me. Her work is so sharp and bitter, full of life, heartbreaking and glorious.

Delta of Venus – Anais Nin

I think it would be good to leave something like Delta of Venus on the Tube, because leaving a book in a public space seems sort of a seedy thing to do.

Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson

I’ve read this countless times because every time I think I’ve forgotten how to write I just pick Jesus’ Son up and read it from cover to cover and I am absolved. It is an absolutely, singularly miraculous book and I am in awe of Johnson for writing it. I also read How It Is by Samuel Beckett quite often, but I just open it at random. I take little bites.

Larry’s Party – Carol Shields

I was writing from a very early age, and I do remember thinking that I’d like to write a book like Larry’s Party because I thought all the minutiae of being a grown-up sounded fascinating. I don’t know how fascinating I’d find it now that I am a grown-up.

Treasure Island!!! – Sara Levine

I don’t read books more than once generally speaking, but I would prescribe Treasure Island!!! for anyone in a foul mood because it is brilliant, completely absurd and furiously well written.

Eli Goldstone’s Strange Heart Beating is published by Granta – and you can buy online here