S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. This is live at Politics and Prose a program from Slate and Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington D.C. featuring some of today’s best writers and top thinkers earlier this year.
S2: We hosted British novelist Hari Koon through our Connecticut Avenue store and at the time he was on the jury for the Man Booker International Prize which the shortlist of which had just come out. And at the time I kept quiet about my love for the then nominated flights by all go to a car check then out only in the UK from Fitzcarraldo editions and I knew I wouldn’t get a straight answer about where things were going from there. But I did try to pull out how things were standing and he said Oh I think we all know which is going to be the winner that they selected to car Chuck’s book as the winner should be very heartwarming for readers across the world because it’s all too rare to have work as original and uncompromising and still utterly spellbinding as this be rewarded with such an honour. But as Koons reader inferred it seems like an inevitable result for anyone who gets even a few pages into this novel story collection essays a collage beautiful thing. There is a reoccurring trope in flights of a cabinet of curiosities and that’s really what it is it’s a multitude of stories of people losing themselves abroad and within the human body. For many here this is probably a first look at a car Chuck’s work. But it’s only one of many works she’s produced in her native Poland since her debut in 1989. A few of which are already available in English House of day House of Night removal and other times and recently in the UK drive your plow through the bones of the dead. She’s joined tonight by Jennifer Croft her translator for flights and currently for her 2014 epic novel The Books of Jacob. Even before the Man Booker International craft has been receiving great recognition for her work as well from the inaugural Michael Henry Heim prize for translation to grants and fellowships from the NEA the Pentagon nation and the Fulbright Program. In addition to polish I first became aware of for translating work from Spanish into English with Argentinian writers remain in power and currently working on Federico Falco whose work she was the founding editor of The winos Iris review while living in Argentina. She’s contributed to outlets like The New York Times the Los Angeles Review of Books and then plus one and her debut novel homesick. Originally written in Spanish will be coming out in English next year from unnamed press so please join me in welcoming them both to Politics and Prose.
S3: Thank you so much for that incredible introduction. We’re super super excited to be here.
S4: I’m going to let all guys talk about the origins of this book and the background of her work. And then I’m going to read just a very short little excerpt and then we’re going to very happily take any of your questions that you might have after that so I handed over to all to.
S5: Thank you Jennifer for to be ready to read it because I forgot my glasses. Thank you for coming. This is my first day in the United States and we are starting from Washington D.C. and going to the two and other places. First of all I should mention that this book is quite old. It was published in Poland 10 years ago. Which means that it was. It has been writing even the area being like Twelve 13 years old. So in some aspects this book is not so hot. I would say the world is changing so fast. So for instance it’s a quite painful for me that in this book there is this is a book about more movement about travelling about being in move on many aspects. But it’s it’s painful for me that there are gaps and lacks in this book. For instance there is there are not refugees. There are not people crossing the Mediterranean Sea on the boat because 12 years ago I wasn’t aware that such a thing can exist. But still the history of this book is very intimate. I had a quite dark time in my life. I decided to divorce and I decided to change my love life. It is such a time when we are. Crossing 40s when you dream about changing everything. So I spend all my money for travelling. And then of course my first reaction for travelling was to to two left some kind of memoirs I thought to write memoirs from my travels. Or a kind of book which you will be something like. Chronic chronic of travelling. But then it was a moment that I look for a form how to express.
S6: Such a feeling beyond move all the time and then I felt that the old forms of writing about travelling are not enough for me that they are too narrow. That travelling nowadays it’s something different than it was in 19th century a century when you are travelling from one point to the other and you are on the ground so you are a witness of changing landscape and you are changing your body in a way. Travelling now travelling is just jumping rather. It is like zipping in the in the television for channels you are.
S5: Yesterday I was in Poland and today I am in Washington so it’s a completely different experience. And then I started to think about how to find the right forum for such an experience. I started to write small fragments connect in connecting with were with which each other and trying to harm hung them together by seances plots meanings inside the books and of course I was devoted to my obsession. During this time because crossing my 40s was the main obsession was that getting old. My body of course and the travellers as a travelling bodies and this endless human tendency to preserve our bodies from cosmetic medicines. Till preservation the history of preservation of of human body and that was the starting point for for this book. And in a way this and this obsession of full of preservation of human body the body. Curiosity was the the fundamental the base of of writing this book also the the idea which would shock me in fact that we know so many things about the outer space that we know we have maps and books about the universe. And we know about many things about planets about all the far countries and so on and we doesn’t know anything about our lives or let’s say or our stomach how it works how it looks really so soon my travel became a travelling from such a important places for me like museums of cabinets of curiosity and I was happy and I was lucky to can travel along. My obsession. In a way.
S7: So that was the beginning and yeah that’s a that’s a really great overview of the book so I’ll just read now maybe a short fragment then maybe another page to give a sense of how of August breadth here of the curiosity that she thought shows throughout the book and I’ll start with a fragment called the tongue as the strongest muscle which is about the English language but also about the body there are countries out there were people speak English but not like us.
S8: We have our own languages hidden in our carry on luggage in our Cosmetic Bags. Only ever using English when we travel and then only in foreign countries to foreign people. It’s hard to imagine but English as their real language. Oftentimes their only language they don’t have anything to fall back on or to turn to in moments of doubt how lost they must feel in the world where all instructions all the lyrics of all the stupidest possible songs all the menus all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures even the buttons in the elevator are in their private language. They may be understood by anyone at any moment whenever they open their mouths. They must have to write things down in special codes wherever they are. People have unlimited access to them. They are accessible to everyone and everything. I heard there are plans in the works to get them some little language of their own. One of those dead ones no one else is using anyway just so that for once they can have something just for themselves.
S9: So that Yeah.
S5: No. So the book consists from such a small text.
S6: Some of them.
S5: There is one I think which is one sentence on me and some of them are longer and there is I like a two chapter longest story about a guy who lost his wife for a while and a child and trying to understand what’s really happened in Croatia. My idea was to to to create what I called Constellation novel and it sounds very serious but in fact it is irony in this. In this expression constellation novel this is the situation when you are staying on the porch during the evening and you can. You are looking to the sky and you can see the point on the sky bright point on the sky and then you know that this is a cultic order of a universe but your brain your mind is perceiving this cultic order in a very special order called called Constellation and this constellations are the meaning of this constellation are taken from our mythology so you cannot really. See the sky as a colors because our brain hates Carl Carl cultic orders. So this is your task to to put an order into this cultic Constellation and then this is a task for a reader of this book because I only prepare this like the Bay base the fundamental and you reader. You have a much sometimes who are much clever than me. So you have to put your own order into it and looking at reviews of this book I noticed that there is no one person who can read this book at the same manner that every single review is different and people can perceive the different things and in a different collection of meanings which is the big prize for me because yeah it is a kind of and less and less communication between me and you. So that was my idea from the beginning.
S10: So I’m tempted because although I just mentioned the different ways of reading I’m tempted to go ahead and open it up to questions and we can return to another reading from the book. If we have time does that sound good.
S9: Anybody. So if anyone has questions they think we have a microphone that will go around.
S11: All right. Now a question about the perception and book in Poland.
S12: I was wondering how was it perceived in Poland and especially with encounters from people on the street on a daily life. How did they react to the book and how it has been included in some sort of a dialogue with the Korean defectors take that as an example my Polish friends go to living in the UK to come back. There’s also this book evolution in Poland right now. How did the people relate to it. How did this happen.
S13: Thank you.
S5: I have to mention that am 12 years ago Poland was in a completely different point of of of a different state. And as you know my generation I belong to the generation who was trapped in a way during communistic time and my first passport I had in my early 30s. So I could go out from Poland and could travel. And I think that for my generation travelling and to be to be a part of the open and free society was very important. And of course the book was very well received in Poland. It was awarded by the the most prestigious book award called Nica prize. And. I think the reception was quite well. And the subject was very it was also very important travelling. But also what we as a new traveller I would say are what we are able to do to put into the two to the word because there is no landscape objective landscape there is only like landscape reflected in our mind. So. The book is a kind of document of this that those new travellers going out from the trap and looking out what’s going on outside.
S14: I’m curious to ask you about writers and books that have influenced you. I mean I’m just curious if for example Kundera is writing or some other. I mean if there if there was some book that gave you some of these sort of helped spark some of these ideas about travelling and and subjective and just landscapes and I mean I and I have not read your book so I am but I’m curious to know how the reading that you engaged in that perhaps helped move you to write this book.
S5: I was surprised that in the reviews that was mentioned the name of Milan Kundera which is which I really praise very much and he he’s very important writer for me. But I have I don’t see any and there influences from him that perhaps there is something deeper we have in Central Europe which is makes us as a. As a city much more similar than I am aware of. But for sure there is no wonder that Zygmunt Bauman this philosopher who invented and describe expression of liquid society was central European because I think that we we. Read because of this because of historical reasons we perceive reality as much more fluent and as a something mobile and liquid than you as a Americans English French because for us living in their reality which is quite movable. For instance my grandmother who was born on Ukraine was a citizen of three countries living in the same place because the borders were movable. They they moved all the time. So I think that the the first general thing which is which could become on form Kundera Milan Kundera and for me would be this feeling that everything is very liquid that there is no stable polling point in our reality and perhaps its effect the kind of writing the language the the perception the the way of creating. Sentences. I know this is some. This is the subject for people from academia from university but for sure I am when what should I answer for the question about another writers I grew up my my parents were teachers. Both of them my mother was teachers of Polish literature and my father was pedagogy. Yeah. So from my childhood I grew up in a library and I was very interested in books and very early. I discovered that books are much more interesting than the real life and you can imagine such a real life in 60s in Poland. It was very boring and as I said before we had a feeling that we are trapped. So the libraries bookstores especially libraries were where the space of free space of freedom and I had to mention Bruno Schulz. I don’t know if you have heard this name for me. He invented a new way of writing and new way of perception and description and his language is the the highest level of Polish literature. And as a teenager I desperately tried to imitate him which is impossible of course. So he was very important for me. I think that I am with my dark curiosity. I would mention also Franz Kafka. Good stuff may ring later. As a student that was in session in Poland to read Southern American writers magic rallies and so on and it says it was discovered by young Polish people as a something very hour as a something very similar to our own experience.
S15: What else. I’ve read Russians of course especially Chekhov and Gogol who really shaped me very very strongly man.
S5: Yeah. That the names are coming as a first door to my mind. But of course down more names and every time I answer on discretion in the different to.
S9: Which is scarce.
S5: Well couple of teens get of course of course but this is a very strong round reportage. I was working as a journalist on my beginning. I studied psychology and from my profession I am cleanest. So it it means that I work with ill people in the mental hospital and then I. I had I had the feeling that I had that I have to change my job because it was too tall too I think too too heavy for me too demanding. And then I started to write in a small newspaper and tried to write about small events in my area and every time I couldn’t stand the demands of reality. So every time I put something crazy to this do my text and I was working on the fired Yeah I was fired. In the end from his job. So then I realized that I would be better novelist inventing things mixing in the reality and invention. And of course I do believe really in such a. Sentence the author was Michael I think. But I don’t remember that perception is secondary that then imagination. And so we first we have to imagine something and then we have a feeling that we that that we perceive it. Yeah.
S16: Thank you.
S17: Hi. I wanted to ask you. And thank you for that wonderful constellation that is your novel. It is lovely but every time I would leave I would read it at night and generally a night before I was going to bed I thinking to myself This is a question for both you and Jennifer when you’re confronted with a book that’s as non-linear. And I don’t know whatever the adjective or constellation is but if it is that’s it. When you have to actually set your mind to to translate this. How does one go about doing that and sometimes I’d read prose and I’d say and by the way I’m giving us to all my family. So there are multiple copies that are going out. But when I would read the prose I say this is so beautiful. And I would say well OK how much of that beauty is the author and how much of the beauty is you. And how do you sort through that. And then as individuals when you provide the manuscript or the translation How do you respond to it. I think it’s an interesting question because so much of it is so incredibly lovely and you kind of wonder how that partnership works at least I do.
S9: Thank you so much for that. Yeah.
S7: So I think that people have asked us a lot about how our collaboration works and it’s less involved during the process than one might think. So I have thus far and I think this is the way that many of us all go. Obviously it has many translators in too many languages and many of us do the translation and then only when we’re finished send the manuscript to all go who is also very busy and you know it doesn’t need to be supervising our hour every sentence.
S4: So I really fell in love with this book when it first came out in Poland and really felt an affinity with it. That led me to believe that I would be able to find the right voices for the characters and for the narrator. And this is something that I’m thinking a lot about right now as I’m translating Olga’s more recent novel The Books of Jacob which is which is an 18th century epic that’s about a thousand pages long and it’s about a real person named Jacob Frank a real historical figure who was the leader of a Jewish heretical sect and it’s also about all of the kind of characters or actual people around him in the various places that he was and they all have an element of Olga of course who wrote it. And they have this and Olga has this beautiful lyrical prose which unites the book and in flight that unites the disparate fragments in this really compelling way that makes it into a novel.
S18: But at the same time she did for the books of Jacob so much research and for this as well I mean all goes really an amazing researcher and she somehow manages to kind of magically transform that into such light fiction often that you wouldn’t guess how much work has actually gone into it. But but if you really start to think about the details it’s it’s definitely a parent. So right now what I’m doing with the books of Jacob is researching all kinds of different 18th century texts written in English to try to find the right voices in English for these characters. There are some in particular that I’m taking out of the novel and just translating so not as they come up by page number but just translating their whole character together to make sure that I have the right coherent person on the page.
S4: So it’s really a process of rewriting it for me and a process of CO creation in August. Of course always ready to help when there are questions. But but my impression is that in general you kind of turn it over to the translator after you’ve written that the Polish so this is the question of trust.
S5: And I think that idea of Man Booker International Prize is very good health and half so to 50 percent of mind this English vibration and 50 percent of Jennifer I guess going off of the last question I understand that the title in polish doesn’t quite mean flights.
S19: It has a different meaning and that’s why any of that word is something that easily translate into English or even if if it has some kind of a resonance in Polish that can’t necessarily be expressed in English.
S4: So the title in Polish is beginning which refers to an Russian Orthodox sect that believed that you had to always remain in motion in order to escape the devil. So that’s obviously a wonderful way of uniting the fragments of this novel.
S3: The root of the word is means to run but it isn’t. So one of the early translations proposed by somebody else I think by the book Institute in Poland was runners and I always hated that title because runners in English sounds like joggers to me and it’s really such a kind of. But now it doesn’t sound like that in Polish. That’s not the word for people who go jogging. So it sounds strange and evocative it sounds evocative in Polish and runners. Doesn’t sound that way to me in English.
S20: So I was translating the Book Off and on for a long time I mean I started working on it in 2008 and was always looking for a publisher and I was publishing excerpts of it and applying for grants. I got a National Endowment for the Arts grant which helped raise some publicity I published articles about it I did whatever I could but people were kind of scared to publish such a non-traditional novel. So all the while as I was working on it I was kind of mulling over a different title options and I ended up coming up with flights which I liked because of its simplicity as a title.
S18: So I mean first of all in translation the title often changes whether this is into English or into another language. So just for market reasons the title is often changed by the editor in charge. So there is the recent example of the perfect nanny by Lee Leslie money which was originally also induce in French and even in Britain when it was published it was published just lullaby which is what it means which I think is a perfectly good title. But the editor at Penguin Random House here in the US decided that he really wanted to make sure this book sold well and so he chose a title that he thought people would really grab people in checkout lanes at a place like Wal-Mart they would see the perfect nanny and they would be intrigued and that’s totally paid off for him.
S4: I mean the book has sold incredibly well. So this kind of thing happens all the time and I figured it would happen anyway. So I was looking for a catchy title and then the other thing is that what another way so I mentioned that Olga has this very beautiful lyrical prose throughout her writing that really drew me and it’s very accessible but also very beautiful. There’s really no other good word for it.
S20: So one of the other things that she does to kind of unite her books is build these networks of resonances and associations. So you really feel although this is composed of so many different places flights and so many different time periods and so many different kinds of people and ideas they’re still all connected to each other. And I thought flights could be a good word that could just kind of pop up throughout the book in different contexts. So of course there are literally airplanes in the book but there is also I mean flights also does have the sense of fleeing of running away. So in that sense it shares something in common with the original title. There are things like flights of fancy which come up.
S21: So there are lots of different ways that it can spark those connections and that’s why I chose that’s why I ended up choosing it although it is different from the original.
S22: Thanks. Can you speak a little bit about the journey of this book. Those of us who do this know that there’s something like twenty five books written originally by women published in translation in this country every year. So it’s an incredibly low number. So could you talk about how you went through the journey of publishing little bits of it finding a publisher finding the grants and putting together the resources to finally get the book out. And I should say also of course published books originally written by women and then translated by women.
S23: That’s an even smaller number.
S9: Sure. So I have always felt really drawn to books by women since I first started really reading but certainly translating.
S20: So I guess I’ve always had a little bit of a sense of mission with this anyway to kind of help bring other women’s voices to readers.
S18: It is harder to do. Perhaps I mean so the situation of Translation is seems to me to be improving in English but it when I first started translating I did an MFA a Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa beginning in 2001.
S20: I was one of two students in the program. No one knew what was going on. No one had any idea kind of how to help us or guide us. It was a program in absolute shambles which it is no longer now the program has been built up to this amazing thing by this wonderful director named Tyrone. RG And it’s so professional and so wonderful and so stimulating for people.
S4: But back then nobody really knew or cared what translation was so I started working on. I’ve discovered all the while I was there. She had published a collection of short stories that I read and really fell in love with. She was one of the first authors that I really started working on and as I mentioned I definitely tried really hard to to publish this book much earlier than what ended up happening although I’m obviously very glad that things turned out the way that they did.
S20: It seems like the timing ended up being perfect but when I first published an excerpt in The Brooklyn Rail there’s a supplement dedicated to translation called in translation and that was I think the middle part of this longer story that Olga mentioned which is called couldn’t eat ski which is about this man whose wife and child disappear on a Croatian island while they’re on vacation. So that’s maybe the most traditional narrative in the book in a way and that’s what I started with and I ended up translating the whole trip deck and publishing each of the pieces in a different place. So one of them went to the magazine bomb and one of them went to and plus one.
S4: And you know editors really magazine editors really responded well to these but still it was just too hard of a sell to people at publishing houses who are concerned that the book just wasn’t going to sell. You know the whole book just wasn’t going to reach people enough to sell sell the copies that they needed to. So yeah it’s a little. And it ended up being published in Great Britain not only much later in the States.
S20: So it came out well over a year ago in Great Britain and then it was doing pretty well and then the wonderful people everywhere had got on board. So it’s a little bit tricky and it’s very very unpredictable. I mean now I’m working on this great book of short stories as Jonathan mentioned by Federico Falco which I think is just such a brilliant collection and thus far it’s also been impossible to sell it because people are afraid that short stories won’t sell. So yeah it’s just it’s kind of like a constant hustle to be a translator.
S4: There’s all of this work I mean like I I run Olga’s Facebook page in English there’s all of this work that is not really part of translating it’s not what I did appeared she and literature to do but but it you kind of have to do a lot of that representation Hello.
S24: I’m a big admirer of your work. I’ll go and read it in Polish so I have a question regarding Jacobs books that are not translated yet. I understand you are in the process of translating it but I am very sorry about the backlash that happened to end the book was published in Poland. I was wondering if Poland is ever going to be in a place where they will understand how important the book is and how it explains the history not only of Poland but also of Europe to the rest of the world. And what is happening with the government of Poland right now. We are losing everything that solidarity back in the eighty nine gained and so my question I guess is to about how the book is perceived in Poland today and if it’s getting better.
S5: You mean Jacob’s book. Yes. I even can see here you have the exemplar the copy of this book so you can have it in Polish here if anyone wants to see it.
S24: Yeah. I’m so happy that I will be in the east soon so.
S25: More often.
S26: Yeah. Book of the dead. It was big success in Poland. From there was there was also the dark side of this success but I don’t like to think about dark side let’s say. And it was a really big success. It was sold in Poland in 150 copies so it’s really like a.
S5: Pop book and I think that from my perspective writing about history is the endless part with subjects. Do you think you can just grab something and ah this is good for a book because he’s. I think that every generation have to rewrite history in order its own understandings conceptions ideas and so on. So for instance for me writing this book was very important to.
S26: Pay special attention of the presence of women in history because if you have the documents and making research you becoming aware that they know the women’s name and not written down in history sometimes they are mentions as wives or sisters or lovers but not as a as a person. So that was my task from the beginning. My mission to to just pay attention of them and to try to construct from this small names and sisters and wives just the figures and the characters psychological for characters and of course this is their universal history story about that we have two facing with strangers all the time that this is history. History of our civilization every time will be the strangers and we’ll be dust settles and this is the end story going everywhere here in United States and in Europe in India everywhere. And this this motives is very important especially during this time we are living now because we are living in the times when the sense of phobia is something which is against civilization.
S5: So I think that people understood this idea undergoing this book and you know the book was published just last week in France. And it’s it’s it. It had very it has very good reserves etc. reception. That was a huge article in Le Monde. So I think that this book will go well also in states next year I hope. 2020 2020.
S16: Thank you.
S26: I am in a very lucky moment. I has to confess I have to confess because just right now I have three books published in different three different books published in different countries in different languages. So the decks in two weeks I’m going to London for them my detective story. And sometimes when they are there it is through e-mail. They are making interviews so I have to be very careful. What. What about the book we are talking about. I have to lose my lost my mind lose my mind.
S27: Actually I just have to intervene here because I have four books because you just had the polish your latest book in Polish come out tales of the Bazaar which is a collection of short stories. So she was also just on tour all summer around Poland promoting that book for it’s doing for books simultaneously right now and trying to write new material insanity.
S28: Hi. My question is actually I wanted to follow up on the previous question.
S29: I was very encouraged that you know when asked whether is it hopeless in Poland with everything that’s happening. Your answer was that you prefer to concentrate focus on the on the positive. That that’s wonderful.
S5: But I wonder because I do believe really in the mock creation and we still have those mechanisms in Poland. There will be election next month. So. Poles are not stupid people really that are not. This is not the tribals of send off our homophobes and crazy people and you know we will see but what I mean you just entered essentially my question my question was is it is it.
S28: Where you evading the question or is it or is it not hopeless. I mean I’m Polish I I see some of my fellow activists here that you know we’ve been.
S29: Saying what we think and you know speaking against it but sometimes I get hopeless sometimes I get full of hope so when it’s in and you just entered it beautifully.
S23: Thank you.
S30: I have a question. I just learned about tradition when I was in Poland actually just came back two weeks ago. And your books I’ve been reading know about you and your books are all day based on actual story or they are fiction and true story together in one book.
S28: Yeah I always afraid of this question that it terrifies me.
S5: Sorry. Because I cannot answer really because I think that the the entire sense of literature is different. It’s something which is a compilation of far of ideas events reality and dreams. And I don’t know fear sometimes. So literature and gives us a special platform for exchanging such a such a thing such ideas and mix everything up. And for instance in flight there are many information let’s say tanker taking take a take took directly from. I don’t know Internet like iPad deal or so on and earn I used to take such a fact and to just make from them something different which is not fact any more but becoming a story and I don’t know that that there is such a kind of such a genre of literature based on so-called true stories but in fact in Poland last year was a huge discussion about reportage how far how how strong a reportage is really a reflection of reality or perhaps it’s also invention or connection some facts together creating different facts and so on. And I know that we are living in a very dangerous moment of history that we are bombarding from from around by fake news and all those bad things. But for God’s sake don’t use literature then three threaten literature as a fake news. This is something different. This is a very perfect very sophisticated way of communication through hundreds of years from from far past to nowadays. We are creating. We used to create a special space just reflecting our lives our intuitions and telling stories about an occurrence.
S31: Now let’s say and the question about Anna Karenina if she was real or not is completely useless. And just please pay attention that sometimes we much better remember.
S5: And no the fiction fictional figures than the real people we can say many things about let’s say Anna Karenina. Then the the real person living in Russia in her time so I think that the literature has a special power and this really special platform for human communication.
S32: Hi Jennifer I mentioned that you put all our time into research before you start writing. Can you tell us a little bit about that. What’s involved how much actually time you need for putting you talk together or your information together before you start writing and you can based on information. I mean answer on this book but also I’m curious about Jacob’s book. Are there was I assume there was a lot of research had to be done especially since I mean I don’t know how much information when you wrote the book exactly but I know how much information was available and Paul and Dan are about Jewish families and also what you could talk a little bit more about it. Great.
S13: Thank you.
S26: The Pharisees idea of of of the book and then I am. I’m just jumping into very special psychological space which is very similar to be in there. And the obsession. So I’m only I’m only interested in facts in atmosphere around the my main subject. It means for me that I used to spend a lot of time in the libraries in archives and I used to do a kind of private studies. I would say so for instance for flight I travel a lot. That’s obvious. But of course I spend a lot. I spent a lot of time in Netherlands in Holland because they have those museum of preservation art. They invented anatomy. They had a sources of from history of anatomy and of course I would say that in slides it’s like 5 percent of my knowledge what I study really. But that was my great pleasure and I spend like three years studying this subject and ten twelve years after all of course I forgot many of those parks. I still have in my home in my house some were collected all those notes and papers articles and so on. But this is their real and deep pleasure that I am very deep in the subject. And of course I used to take what is really what I really need from from all those studies. And with Jacob’s book it was a different situation because here as I said This is literature. So the mixture of invention of imagination some facts but told in a different way like than the. And the books are used to tell those stories but Jacob’s book is historical another very well based on facts and I was were aware from the beginning that this subject is so fragile in Poland that I have to be very honest because after all everybody can you know grab me and ask Ah here is the mistake. You change something so Jacob’s book is very detailed. Based on archives. So even in the bad reviews from the right side in the during the reception in this book that was no such a voice as the book is in a way spoiled on something is wrong with facts. So it was for me it was completely different way of working and I must say that sometime it was boring to trust facts on the. The facts are sometimes are quite narrow and they could be much more you know rich in a way than them but every time I should be you know very honest very strict with with facts and I I have been writing Jacob’s book for many years. I think that I started this book.
S5: In the late 90s making notes trying to trace those people in archives who they were and I s as I mentioned especially when a woman women’s characters in many of their characters and private and other stories are so magical do you think you’ll ever write something where the characters come together.
S13: That’s still sometimes. I’m still psychologist and they think about writing a book as a psychological process which is bigger than my consciousness.
S5: And for instance I have very often. I have a feeling that something a kind of power I would say psychological power from from my unconsciousness used to help me. There is such a situation for instance I am invited to the party to my friends and arms staying with a glass of wine close to the kind of shelf with books and I drinking this wine. I was thinking about this a special small scene in my book and tried to resolve how it should be done and so on. And then I’m looking at the shelf and just automatically taking a book from the show open. And then there is a solution inside. So it’s sometimes it’s really magical moments and a travel. Writing this book Jacob’s book I went to Estonia for just business reasons I had the presentation of my previous book and then by accident I met there a guy a man who was from his family very involved into Frankie’s story and he told me many many such a detailed stories small stories and which I could use to do writing this novel. So that was the reason to go to Estonia. Of course not the promotion of the previous book. So sometimes it’s I like this feeling of course I’m not a religious person I’m not. I don’t believe in magic. I would say but sometimes I do believe in Freud and his inventions that sometimes our consciousness and unconsciousness much broader than those tracks we are moving forward and back. And then we have a feeling that we organize and everything. So I like to trust my unconsciousness. And of course the figures the characters from the books there is a kind of independence of such a figures. First time I had this feeling writing House of the House of Night. There is a very important character women characters they’re called Marta and she’s a mom she’s not an no writer but like a spirit of this book very important one. And writing her dialogues with my writer with her then I realized that I’m writing her answers and I’m not really agreed with with those answers and they they sound for me very strange and I don’t know what she’s going to tell. So then she in a way become became for me a real person. And what should I do. I trust her. And she you know she took responsibility for part of the text so that’s sometimes very they should be such a department on university like psychology of writing psychology of creating or or independently of independency of a novel.
S33: It has its own energy in a way you have time for these last few questions here. Hi.
S34: You said at the beginning that you wrote the flights in your kind of dark hours. I just wonder whether it was therapeutic therapeutic to write it and in what way. And you know you said that you’re getting yourself into this obsessive psychotic state of mind when you write it. So when you go out of this space how it is to look at yourself and what what it gives you in terms of yes it is written in flight that this is controlled psychosis in a way but I’m quite strong person and I had never heard the.
S5: I never afraid that I cannot come back from the book. It’s always I manage many times it’s twelve novels so it’s okay with me. And I must say that I like this state. It’s kind of how to describe it. You are it’s like in meditation you are very indeed you are deep. For instance when writing Jacob’s novel I was for some years I was I wasn’t interested in any in another novels of different writers I was obsessed only with literature from 18th century. I was obsessed with books about Jews and their history and about the second the second half of eighteenth century and the history of Poland at the time. So in a way I was closed full and and another informations. And this is a very fruitful state of mind. You are you are in in something very deep and then it’s easy to navigate in such a space much easier than then to talk to all the other things to work somewhere or to do your job like Franz Kafka had to do in the office for instance. So it was therapeutic therapeutic therapeutic therapeutic writing is therapeutic to be in a in the interest of something is always therapeutic because what is a bed of all for our minds is an obsession egocentric obsession is narcissism. So writing in this sense always free you from yourself which is the most therapeutic thing all over the world.
S35: Hi. You mentioned that you do a lot of research once you get an idea. And so my question is being a creative person you must have a lot of ideas. How do you know that this is it that you want to stick with it and really commit yourself to doing such deep research and write about it. How do you know that the idea is something that maybe you know it’s interesting but you’re not ready for it at the moment and have you ever begun writing. And then in the middle of it you decided that it’s not going anywhere. The idea was interesting at the beginning but as you started doing your research it just lost his interest.
S5: I have such a novel it is nearly written nearly finished but there is a lack of something in it so I just left this book and did the work. Apart I don’t know how it works really it isn’t the question that I have. Have to feel to be totally devoted to the subject. That was a little bit different with Jacob’s book because I knew from the beginning that this book will be important for us as a as a polls. And as a European and so in a way I had a mission with this book. But here I was completely risky because the subject was risky. Who will read the book which is which consist you know one hundred sixteen small fragments and is not lean you are and it’s crazy in a way. So when I brought this manuscript to my publisher. They look at me in a very very strange way and ask me oh got. This is really your finished book is it not that the just the the the the first manuscript of the the attempt the the notes on only and I said yes this is finished book that it looks like that. So they had to trust me. And they like such a I like such a risk that another book which was very risky as well was this detective story called Drive Your plowed through the bones of the dead with crazy title. And that was detective novel in fashion in Poland. So everybody all of my writers friends they used to write detective story because you know everybody would like to be like those Scandinavians who. Yeah and a lot of money became very famous and so on. But it seemed to me from the beginning that writing a book only because just to know who is the murderer in the end it’s not ecological it’s wasting a paper it’s us. So then I realized to put something into this book which was my. Another obsession Animal Rights which was completely fresh subject in Poland. And also that I noticed that there is there are no older women character in the literature not only in Poland but if you look around in American literature I think there the word literature there is no such a strong female characters old after 70 let’s say older we have Mrs. Marple in as a detective and I don’t know left in loan or carrying on my favorite writer is also the two to couple of such old female characters but this is not so obvious. So I decided to write a book from the position of the old women national writer and tell the crazy story and from the beginning I knew that there will be that most of my readers would be surprised at least and many of them by readers will be also discussed. And it was like that. Well what I mean how I expected the book was very controversial in Poland and I don’t know how I did it because the book became political but no wonder we are living in them in Poland in a very political environment. So everything you you write is political.
S32: At the same moment that’s all the time we have for questions. This has been great. Thank you everybody for coming out.
S36: Thank you. Thanks a lot. This is my. First.
S26: Event in the United States. So sorry for my English and I’m not so yeah. I think that there in the end in New York I will be British.
S37: Thank you very much for coming along.
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