Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BOMB Interview with Tristan Garcia

For a limited time, BOMB magazine is making their full interview with French novelist Tristan Garcia available on their website.

Garcia was born in 1981 in Toulouse and is the author of Hate: A Romance (published by Faber and Faber last fall and translated by Marion Duvert and Lorin Stein) and Mémoires de la Jungle.

I haven't read Garcia's novel yet but it definitely sounds like it's worth checking out and there was much in the interview of interest:

I wanted to write about something far removed from myself, which has nothing to do with my existence, even my nature—I’m too well-behaved, my soul is too well-adapted to the world, in a sense. Autofiction doesn’t interest me, and I’m not very interested in myself either. For a time, it was believed that because people were writing to tell their stories—as if to a psychoanalyst or a confessor—literature was self-expression, first and foremost, and, sometimes, the fictional expression of self: speech, a voice, the voice of the person writing. For me, it is the contrary. Writing is a refined form of empathy through which man extends his ability to be an Other, to feel what someone else feels, to trade his sensibility and voice with others without losing his soul.

And on dealing with morals in fiction:

In the 20th century, the idea of morals became suspect: people spoke of sanctimonious morals; a holier-than-thou approach; categories of good and evil, what should and shouldn’t be done. But if you take morals out of art and, especially, out of literature, the form dries up, it tends toward abstraction, self-reflexiveness. . . The interesting thing about morals in the novel is the idea of empathy, as opposed to compassion. Compassion consists in pretending to share someone else’s suffering, to suffer together, by patting the victim on the back, like on television shows. I hate compassion as a spectacle: ultimately you suffer alone; we should not pretend to commune in pain—that’s false. However, you can put yourself in the other’s place, you can, through the imagination, suffer what he suffers, come out of yourself, take the other’s place—without being with the Other, but by carrying out the exercise of being what the Other is.
Additionally, you can read a review of the novel in the Guardian

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