Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Q&A with Eshkol Nevo


Eshkol Nevo is the author of the novel The Last Interview, now available in an English translation by Sondra Silverston. His other books include Homesick and Three Floors Up. He lives in Israel.


Q: It seems strange to be asking you these questions about this book, given its format, but how did you come up with the book's structure, which involves an author answering questions about his work and his life?


A: I had "writer's block" in another text. So I started playing this game: taking the questions I am usually asked on interviews and answering them in the most honest, authentic, non-politically-correct way. I actually decided never to publish these answers (a decision which added to the sense of playfulness) – but after a while, I realized that, unintentionally, I was writing a novel. With characters, plotlines and themes.


Q: What do you think the book says about the relationship between an author and the author's work? 


A: Maybe that they are like the relationship between our day experiences and our nighttime dreams. 


Q: What about the relationship between an author and his/her readers? 


A: In a way, this novel is an attempt to break the "fourth wall." To get the author and the readers on the same side. I don’t know if I succeeded in that, but it's definitely the book of mine that provoked the largest amount of personal e-mails from readers (some of them revealing their answers to the questions in the book). 


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, "Nevo pushes the boundaries of fiction both formally and thematically, challenging the reader at every turn to reconsider their conceptions of the relationship between truth and fiction." What do you think of that description? 


A: I love pushing boundaries. I try do it in every novel of mine (or else, why bother readers with another book?) and I am happy that the Kirkus review and other reviews in the U.S. also were able to read between the lines, and I appreciated that.  


Q: What are you working on now?  


A: Finishing a new novel. Answering many interviews on the previous novel. Trying to persuade the illustrator of my new children's book to re-illustrate the last page. Trying to save our creative writing school from extinction because of the economic crisis here. Writing a weekly stories column for Vanity Fair Italy, on the topic of happiness. Wondering about my ability to be happy during a lockdown. Demonstrating against our corrupt prime minister despite the lockdown. 


But mainly, most of the time: fathering my three daughters, and apparently each one of them needs a different style of fathering.


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: "Maybe a great magnet pulls, all souls towards truth" (K.D Lang, Constant Craving)


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Eshkol Nevo.

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