March 14th, 2011 / 3:33 am

Interview Roundup Part Seven: Whitehead, Klima, Krilanovich, Touré, Roy

“My whole life I’ve seen those elevator inspection certificates. I’d go to school, when I was a kid, and come back and the person had been there, the exact same guy for 10 years. The elevator seemed perfectly fine, so what’d he do? I was thinking about what would make a funny detective story. Well, why not put this person in a situation where he actually has to apply his esoteric skills to a straightforward mystery? But then I had to actually make up what kinds of skills he had, and it became all about elevators and not so much this chase-the-McGuffin sort of story.” – Colson Whitehead, in Salon

“I said something simple about the situation and there was tremendous applause. The strange thing was that afterwards many people came up and said that they had not known I was living in Prague all these years. Blacklisted writers had been made non-existing persons by the regime. People thought we lived in exile; in a way we did.” – Ivan Klima, in The Guardian

“Oh yes, I explicitly used cutups for this novel. Lots and lots, especially during the big push, the heavy lifting that took place in ’06. And I’m talking cutups in the classic Burroughs/Gysin sense, two texts sliced down lengthwise and reattached with their opposites: AA and BB become AB and BA. Then you strike out the word fragments caught in between so it looks like a crooked seam. They’re great aesthetic objects, just on their own. You may notice a few words and scenarios in the OEC crop up again and again—I think some of the sections involving day laborers—and that’s the residue of the cutups. Eventually I rewrote things so much that the effect was mostly obliterated, but it did help generate content, which was my reason for doing them. I wanted to come up with ideas that I couldn’t simply conjure up through ordinary means—out of thin air, the old fashioned way.” – Grace Krilanovich in Hobart

“Early on there was an assumption from editors that I could write about hip-hop and black music but not about white music.  Once an editor suggested I’d be lost writing about Eric Clapton, which is strange because he’s steeped in black music.  I just kept fighting and I found white subjects who others didn’t want to cover and did them well.  In time my editors realized I could write about anything.” – Touré in No Strings Attached News

“I don’t see a great difference between The God of Small Things and my works of nonfiction. As I keep saying, fiction is truth. I think fiction is the truest thing there ever was. My whole effort now is to remove that distinction. The writer is the midwife of understanding. It’s very important for me to tell politics like a story, to make it real, to draw a link between a man with his child and what fruit he had in the village he lived in before he was kicked out, and how that relates to Mr. Wolfensohn at the World Bank. That’s what I want to do. The God of Small Things is a book where you connect the very smallest things to the very biggest: whether it’s the dent that a baby spider makes on the surface of water or the quality of the moonlight on a river or how history and politics intrude into your life, your house, your bedroom.” – Arundhati Roy in The Progressive


  1. Rion Amilcar Scott

      What about Toure?

  2. Anonymous

  3. Anonymous