Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tea Obreht interview

"Since a novel is a personal project, it's of course about some personal things, but the stories are not just mine. A novel is about people, not about ideas, about human stories and not about historical stories."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mikhail Shishkin interview

Q:What is your ideal reader like?

Shishkin: Well he stands beside me and likes everything I like. And hates what I hate. The risk with this is that you are left alone with your ideal reader. But I was lucky enough to have lots of real readers in Russia, in my homeland. The prizes are great, so are the stage adaptations, but the most important thing for me was meeting my real readers in the provinces. A year ago I went on a reading tour through the small towns of the Vologda region, a hotbed of small-town mentality. It was a gathering for provincial intelligence: teachers, apothecaries, librarians. And they all had my books on them and were talking about how important they were for them. I found it very moving. The role and importance of literature in Russia is hard to compare with any other country in the world. Reading in Russia is a struggle for self-preservation, for maintaining human dignity in the face of degrading political reality.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Amitav Ghosh's "Ibis" novels: History book in disguise?

In an interview In The Hindustan Times' Brunch magazine, June 26, 2011 (Sorry, no link is available), Amitav Ghosh was rightly asked if his "Ibis" novels could become a history book in disguise. His answer:

"I could never write a history book in disguise really because..because I am a novelist. I am a writer of fiction. That's what I do. To write history is a very particular thing. It calls for specific talents, which are not ma talents, you know. It's not something that can happen. First and foremost, I'm a storyteller."

I have no problem in admitting that he's an astute storyteller. But is the stuff that Ghosh has been churning out for some years now can really be called literature?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reading: The investigations of a dog/ Franz Kafka

I had to read it twice. At first reading it seemed like a riddle. So, what was it that the dog was trying to tell us? What was the finding out of his investigation? In my second reading, I simply replaced the "dog" with "man" (in Kafka's world, they are interchangeable any way),and cracked the message of the story.

It is about a metamorphosed society dominated by terror.

Franz Kafka foresaw the emergence of a capitalistic society in his times, and quite prophetically imagined the condition of common man under the new system.

"Even in those days wonders did not openly walk the streets for any one to seize; but all the same dogs - I cannot put any other way- had not yet become so doggish as today, the edifice of dogdom was still loosely put together, the true Word could still have intervened, planning or replanning the structure, changing at will, transforming it into the opposite; and the Word was there, was very near at least, on the tip of everybody's tongue, anyone might have hit upon it. And what has become of today? Today one may pluck one's very heart and not find it. Our generation is lost, it may be, but it is more harmless than those earlier ones. I can understand the hesitation of my generation, indeed it is no longer mere hesitation; it is the thousandth forgetting of a dream dreamt a thousand times and forgotten a thousand times; and who can damn us merely for forgetting for the thousandth time?"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Publishers are sheep!

To some extent, publishers are sheep. I honestly think they don't know what they want until somebody else wants it too. Don't get me wrong, I know many creative and brilliant publishers who discover great new things all the time, but it is nevertheless always very helpful if something comes to them already endorsed, either by a prize such as this, or else a quote from someone like Martin Amis telling them how great it is. Anything, really, to convince them of its worth before they have even read a word.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jorge Semprún interview

I have often said I am not a “real” novelist, because for me the true novelist can use elements of reality to create a world that is more true to reality than reality itself, precisely because it is completely imaginary. I love that line by Boris Vian, “In this novel everything is true because I made it all up.” That, in my view, is a novel. And I will never be able to do that because I feel pulled inexorably toward the autobiographical material.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Andreï Makine interview

Alternaissance, don’t forget this title, because although it is not very well known at the moment, it will be an important novel and will gradually become known. It is about what happens if we start to refuse to be complete idiots, if we’ve had enough of this great machine we are living in. People watch soccer, they work, they make kids, they eat... and then everything starts all over. It is society that has made people such idiots. This way of life suits everyone. And why? Because such people do not revolt. They don’t bother. They accept everything. Their salary is reduced – they accept it. Thus society produces its own slaves. In communism people were given a small flat with a bit of salary so that they won’t make problems, and the same thing happens in Western societies. Brains are filled with emptiness, while we feel that they are full, because there is a bit of soccer, a bit of salary, a bit of food in them. But that’s it and no more. The biological and social creature exists for perhaps a mere twenty thousand days, and then he dies. Just like a small fly. If a human being wants to revolt and says ’no, I am something else as well’, in that case they decide for alternaissance.

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