Šiemet Vilniaus Knygų mugė bus juntama ir mūsų fakultete – vasario 23 dieną, 13 valandą fakultete vyks susitikimas-diskusija su Europos Sąjungos literatūros premijos laureate, knygų “After the Fire, a Still Small Voice” ir “All the Birds, Singing” (liet. „Visi paukščiai gieda”) autore, britų kilmės australų rašytoja Evie Wyld. Diskusiją anglų kalba moderuos anglų filologijos 4 kurso studentės Greta Kaikarytė ir Karolina Atkočiūnaitė.
Nekantriai laukdami diskusijos paklausėme rašytojos kelių klausimų, tad kviečiame susipažinti su ja artimiau.
Ms Wyld, your work is best known to Lithuanian readers by virtue of a recent translation of your novel All the Birds, Singing, whose setting oscillates between Australia and Britain. This seems to tie in with how you are often described as an Anglo-Australian writer. Do you find this a fair description of your creative identity? May we ask you about the books and literary traditions that, you feel, must have shaped you as a writer?
It does in some way, yes – my mother is Australian and I have a lot of my family there. I always felt a strong connection with the place as a child, that said the novel I’m currently working on is entirely set in the UK. I grew up on a lot of ‘Dreamtime’ stories when I was younger, which are stories told about the land by the indigenous people of Australia. I think those more than anything else fuelled my interest in the land and in monsters. I was always interested in people’s interpretations of the place I loved and missed – so Sydney Nolan and Sarah Raphael’s paintings were as important to me as Tim Winton, Shirley Hazzard, Richard Flanagan, Kate Grenville and Patrick White.
In her novel The Hunter fellow Australian author Julia Leigh rethinks the fascination the Tasmanian tiger holds in the Australian imagination. Your fiction also shows a profound intellectual and emotional attentiveness to the animal world. In All the Birds, Singing, for example, the significance attributed to sheep and dogs seems to bear on the complexity of human interactions, especially relationships between men and women in the novel. Was this part of your initial plan for the story or did it unfold intuitively?
I’ve only recently become interested in humans – animals always seemed far more interesting and secretive. With pets it’s a member of the family, a child who doesn’t grow up but instead dies before you, and you paper over the grief by getting another. And in animals outside the pet circle, there’s a strange balancing act, living and killing amongst each other. A sheep will never understand that when you shear it you are doing it for its own good, it will always assume it is about to be slaughtered, until one day it is correct. People bonding with the animals they send off to slaughter, fascinates me. There must be deep down an impulse to open the gates and let them all flee in to the woods.
Unlike All the Birds, Singing, your other novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, is set in Australia, and yet it shows how the ordinary lives of its characters are enmeshed in the web of world history. What was it that made you interested in the legacy of the Korean and Vietnam War in Australia?
My uncle was conscripted and fought in Vietnam. When I sat down to write my first novel I knew that I wanted to think about that. That I know him as a charming, kind, funny man, but that he keeps photographs of the young men he killed. I wanted to look at that, and I also wanted to look at my grandfather, my uncle and my cousin and their masculinity – my grandfather who let his war trickle down on to my uncle, by uncle who did the same to my cousin. My cousin, who has not fought in a war, but still bears the scars of this grandfather and father.
Your beautiful prose shows a remarkable aptitude for blending poetic diction with an eye for violence – is the human capacity for both cruelty and kindness something that you have thought much about?
Yes – It’s being capable of such beauty and such filth that fascinates me, that none of us are without the capacity to cause extreme pain and suffering to others, though we often don’t recognise it in ourselves. It all seems such a careful balance when it’s going well.
Thank you for giving us your time. We’re looking forward to meeting you on the 23rd of February!