Michael Cunningham and Anna Nemzer: A Literary Conversation (Part 1)


Well sometimes it’s best to start with the most obvious question. You write historical fiction. More or less Can you imagine the historical novel you would write fifty years from now set today? It would be difficult for me to imagine, but perhaps, it would be appropriate to tell a story about how I started thinking about my next text… I do not know, whether it will happen or not, but a great story happened around me starting to think about it, let’s say, in 2012 I thought about it as anti-utopia, and before I managed to write it, it came to live, point by point. That is why it is relatively difficult for me to give forecasts or to imagine something for myself, because reality at this current moment, is greatly ahead of my imagination. No, it’s true. My novels are mostly contemporary, not always. In the course of writing a novel set in contemporary times, it’s hard to keep up with the changes. By the time the novel is finished, the political atmosphere… three years ago is completely not the case anymore. This is exactly what happened to me, and I do not think my case is unique Could you talk a little bit about where that’s coming from, and why now? I think that since we in any case observe to an extent restoration, or conscientious reanimation of a great number of Soviet stereotypes, including we did have an article (in the Criminal Code) for homosexuality perhaps, it would be difficult for me to say, it is perhaps, a fear of the other perhaps, today we see a certain reanimation of these fears as well. Certainly, it was the need to create a situation, where there is a law for any scenario in life where you are barely awoke, but you have already broken a law. You have not done anything, but have already broken a law. This is the situation that is recreated from the Soviet times… Yeah, that was also something else that I was thinking about this criminalization of homosexuality. It’s just a first step. It’s not just about censoring homosexual voices. There’s a whole agenda yet to be revealed. What do you think about that? I would like for it not to sound as if I am diminishing the problem, but of course, I think that it is the criminalization of everything around, including LGBT community as only a part. Not because it is an insignificant part, but because it is one of many steps. It is Kafkaesque logic, where a person is guilty just in case, without having done anything so that there exists a mechanism to punish a person.

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