“Writers can almost be defined as professional outsiders. It’s part of the job. You often have to step outside of a situation to observe it—to choose the right details—to reshape a mess of events into a narrative.”
Posts Tagged ‘international fiction’
What is it about the European cultures, tucked like bats into their tiny cubbies, that seems so much more specific than our own? How do Belgium or Luxembourg achieve “culture” in little more space we might use to construct a Wal-Mart megastore? What is it about confinement that breeds a more tribal than national identity? What are we doing when we sit down to read a collection of fiction culled from a continent?
In her latest novel, White is for Witching (Nan A. Talese / Doubleday), Helen Oyeyemi dismantles and rebuilds the Haunted House story brick by brick, creating a book filled to the rafters with innovation. The Cambridge, UK-based author talked with Neelanjana Banerjee about why she’s drawn to supernatural subjects (but not “magical realism”), why vampire stories are really about race, and how to write stories that will freak your readers out.
Like most of us, Orhan Pamuk’s narrator Kemal rushes through his happiest moments in a preoccupied haze, only appreciating them in hindsight. A true materialist, he seeks to recreate them through his collections of mementos large and small, iconic and insignificant. His “museum” in The Museum of Innocence (Knopf, 2009) is a diorama not only of Kemal’s own nostalgia, but of Turkey itself in the late 1970s.
In his wonderful Nobel lecture, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio argues passionately why the writer, literature, and literacy matter in a global society, responding in particular to Stig Dagerman’s Essäer och texter. I greatly admire how this speech–like the best fiction–is at once intimate and inclusive, intensely personal yet widely relevant. Some choice excerpts:
If we [...]