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53 Interviews entries in Magazine

November, 2016

Interview with Suchart Sawasdsri

Veteran editor Suchart Sawasdsri made a name for himself as a literary talent spotter on whose desk the manuscripts of many of Thailand’s acclaimed contemporary writers have landed. Over his nearly fifty-year career as editor of various literary magazines as well as a journal of social and political commentary, he has come to be regarded as an encyclopedia of Thai literature. Most notably, from 1978 to 2010 (with a couple of hiatuses, dividing the magazine’s run into three...

May, 2016

Interview with Mary Jo Porter

Images: Mary Jo Porter If paradise ends where choice begins, as Arthur Miller observed, then our digital age fantasy of paradise as a tropical island with no Internet collapses with our choice to travel to one. The permanent inhabitants of such an island, who live without Internet access or the luxury of travel, would likely have a lot to tell the world about life in paradise, if only they could get online. As of 2016, these inhabitants represent 95% of the Cuban population. In January...

May, 2015

Both Freedom and Constraint: An Interview with Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattah was born in Sydney in 1979 and grew up in Melbourne. She has written nine young adult books inspired by her research on racism, including Does My Head Look Big in This? Ten Things I Hate About Me, Where the Streets Had a Name, Buzz Off, The Friendship Matchmaker, The Friendship Matchmaker Goes Undercover, No Sex in the City, Jodie and the Book of You, and Rania and the Book of You. She worked as a litigation lawyer for ten years and is currently...

October, 2014

The Art of Expressing One’s Agony: An Interview with M. Raouf Bachir

Mohamed Raouf Bachir was a successful and celebrated writer of short stories in Syria in the sixties and seventies, becoming a member of the state-sponsored Arab Writers Union, on the Story and Novel Committee in 1974, and later honored as the “Sheikh of Aleppo’s Authors.” Now in his eighties, he has gone into exile in Turkey, having lost his home in Aleppo along with its contents, including his entire literary archive, and endured a traumatic exit from his homeland, like...

September, 2014

Exiled in Europe: An Interview with Three Women Writers

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has often examined the question of exile in essays and articles. Exile is indeed a place, he has written, a desolate space where one must confront the question: “Is there a moment when you know intuitively and accept that you have now truly arrived in exile?” He also suggests that a writer’s temperament is that of “a creature in a permanent state of exile,” since his or her real vocation is the eradication of the barriers of reality....

January, 2014

The Poetry of Truth: An Interview with Abdulla Pashew

Ziad Rashad:  If you could begin the interview, what question would you ask yourself? Abdulla Pashew: In my poem “Kazewaya,” I say, “I have passed many questions, yet / Many are to come...”  Daily, I ask stacks of questions while another pile accumulates at my mind's gate, waiting to enter. Everything I say, everything I do, I ask myself, “Have I done this right? Have I said this right? Did I do this right?” With so many questions in mind,...

November, 2013

Between Two Worlds: An Interview with Goli Taraghi

Nahid Mozaffari spoke with Goli Taraghi on the telephone in October 2013. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. Nahid Mozaffari:  Ms. Taraghi, you are one of the very few Iranian writers who has had the experience of exile as well as the experience of living in Iran after the revolution of 1979. You spend much of your time in Tehran, publish your work in Persian, teach, and have a large readership in Iran. At the same time, you frequently travel and spend time in...

July, 2013

In Translation: An Interview with Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky

In the collection In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means, edited by Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky and published in May 2013 by Columbia University Press, eighteen translators consider the parts they play in the works they translate.  Divided into two sections, “The Translator in the World,” and “The Translator at Work,” the pieces address both perennial issues of translation and the particular situation of foreign literature in the...

November, 2012

An Interview with Yan Lianke

At Thinkers Café, a dimly lit café near Peking University, Yan Lianke chooses a side table with a desk lamp that flickers on and off as we speak. The outspoken author and ex-military man is strikingly mild-mannered. Yan enlisted in the army when he was a teenager. He spent the next two decades as a military propaganda writer, while testing the state censors’ limits and his army superiors’ patience with an increasingly ambitious and politically pointed series...

An Interview with Chan Koon-chung

Chan Koon-chung’s gray, shoulder-length hair is a throwback to the seventies, when Chan founded an influential cultural and alternative lifestyle magazine, City Magazine. Chan has since made a point of being where the action is: City Magazine saw Hong Kong navigate the anxiety-filled return to Chinese sovereignty, and in the early nineties, Chan moved to Taiwan, where he worked in television during the transition to full democracy that had the country choose its first popularly...

February, 2012

The History of the Present: Sergio González Rodríguez on the Mexican Literary World and the Drug War

Carmen Boullosa: When I approached you for this interview you said you were convinced that the situation in Mexico should not be read as a conflict between “good” and “evil”—criminals attacking innocent people—but rather within an altogether different frame of reference. Sergio González Rodríguez: Yes, the situation in Mexico today adds up to much more than some filmlike scenario with good guys and bad guys. There’s malice in it,...

January, 2012

A Necessary Distance from Reality: An Interview with Rutu Modan

Rutu Modan is a rarity. One of the few established comics artists in Israel, she is also one of the few established female comics artists in the world. After graduating from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Modan began writing and illustrating comic strips and stories for Israel's leading daily newspapers, as well as editing the Israeli edition of MAD magazine with Yirmi Pinkus. In 1995, she and Pinkus cofounded Actus Tragicus, an internationally acclaimed collective...

August, 2011

A Conversation with Rafik Schami

Rafik Schami was born in Damascus in 1946, came to Germany in 1971, and studied chemistry in Heidelberg. Today he is the most successful German-speaking Arabic writer. His novels have been translated into twenty-three languages and received numerous international awards. His bestselling books include The Dark Side of Love, The Calligrapher's Secret, and Damascus Nights. Syrian journalist Nadia Midani spoke with Rafik Schami earlier this year. The following is an edited transcript of...

A Scream Has No Alphabet: An Interview with Aïcha Arnaout

Born in Damascus, the poet and novelist Aïcha Arnaout has lived in Paris since 1978. We have had quite a few conversations over the past few years, often at the Marché de la Poésie, an annual event that takes place in early summer on the Place Saint-Sulpice, in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Last March, she became totally engaged in the Syrian revolt, working day and night to send news updates and attend meetings in support of her people. We no longer meet at readings,...

July, 2011

Living to Write: An Interview with Doménico Chiappe

Jonathan Blitzer: “The Writer of Memories,” the story we’ve published in this issue of the magazine, is the first one to appear in your book of stories, Párrafos Sueltos (2003). And in several senses, the story contains some of the central themes of your work: immigration, the notion of place and location, the weight of literary tradition (and the anxiety that provokes). But in a fundamental way this story demonstrates an interest of yours that runs even...

Publishing in Tunisia: An Interview with Elisabeth Daldoul of Elyzad

Elisabeth Daldoul founded her publishing house, Elyzad, in Tunisia almost six years ago. My first experience with her was with A cinq mains, a book in which she published five short stories written by five different women writers either from the Maghreb or related to the Maghreb. She had asked each of us to write about the hand, drawing our inspiration from this powerful image in Maghrebi culture or simply approaching the theme in its more universal associations.  We were totally...

June, 2011

The Story of a Homosexual: An Interview with Ni Dongxue

I met Ni Dongxue in 2006, in a quiet and nicely decorated gay bar through two musician friends who played in a band there. The bar is located in the city’s Moziqiao region, a popular nightlife spot. A pioneer and recognized leader in Chengdu’s gay community, the then-thirty-six-year-old Ni graduated from Beijing Teachers’ University with a master’s degree in psychology. Ni wore heavy makeup and a bright yellow shirt. He said he visited the place every week to...

Performing Language: An Interview with Abdellah Taia

In late April, Abdellah Taïa arrives in New York City for the seventh annual PEN World Voices Festival. Two days before he is to sit down in conversation with Dale Peck for an interview hosted by PEN and the French Institute Alliance Française, we meet for tea on West Eighteenth Street to catch up. The last time I saw him, in Paris, it was late 2009 and he was living in a tiny Belleville apartment in the building in which Édith Piaf had been born. Recently he's...

A Tiny Repeated Gesture: An Interview with Blanca Riestra

Jonathan Blitzer:  In this issue of the magazine, we’ve published your story “The Night Sucks (La noche sucks),” which later became the novel of the same name.  You have never considered yourself a short story writer, though—rather, a novelist (although you also write poetry). In fact, you have even expressed certain reservations about the short-story form.  What are they?  And why do novels and poetry suit you better? Blanca Riestra: What I...

May, 2011

Contraband Forms: An Interview with Ernesto Pérez Zúñiga

Jonathan Blitzer:  You have written three books of poems, two short-story collections, and three novels.  But for the first part of your career—and while you lived in Granada, where you grew up—you dedicated yourself almost exclusively to poetry.  When, and why, did you turn to prose?  And does it have anything to do with your relocating to Madrid? Ernesto Pérez Zúñiga:  During the months I was living in Línea de la...

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