An invented language, off-stage heroes, searing political comedy. Katarina Matsson sits down with award-winning Swedish playwright and novelist Jonas Hassen Khemiri to discuss translation, the power-struggle of words, rats, germs, leaving home to write about it, and why hearing voices doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crazy.
Most of Leni Zumas’s stories in her exceptional (and stylistically exciting) debut, Farewell Navigator (Open City, 2008), are compact studies of paralysis in the tradition of Beckett and Ioensco. Sherwood Anderson could have been describing Zumas’s characters as they, too, are “forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts.” In “Farewell Navigator,” one character envies a group of blind schoolchildren for having teachers “to pull them. Nobody expects them to know where to go.” And in “Leopard Arms”—a story told from the perspective of a gargoyle—a father fears “of doing nothing they’ll remember him for. Not a single footprint—film, book, record, madcap stunt—to prove he was here. Am I actually here? he sometimes mutters into his hand.”
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