Chaired by Richard Lea
Both authors gave a short reading from their novels to start the event.
In Eugen’s book the narrative jumps back and forward but it leaves gaps for the imagination. You can only ever show the reader a fragment of the story but you will always have the wrong idea of this book. If someone left GDR it was like they had vanished. The novel is told in pieces to make it shorter as it is possible to compress the marative. The prospective is always changing, you wouldn’t be able to manage that in a film without driving the audience crazy. Each chapter is about 25 pages and in each chapters there is flashbacks present but the narrative does not jump during the chapter. The book is about the fall of the wall and most people have a basic knowledge of this and you can use this knowledge to compress the book even more.
Patricio started by apologising for his English (personally I thought his English was fine), apologised for his voice (he is sick) and for the fact he didn’t know what day it was as he was in Argentina less than 30 hours ago. Part of the story within the novel is common knowledge and it was a painful story for Patricio to write and this is why the story must be written in fragments. It was important to find a form that was unconventional to tell the story as there has been many versions of this story over the years. It was important that the book was not closed at the end of the novel, it was also difficult to think about the right structure and have a balance between fact and fiction. The fiction aspect was added to allow the reader to have the opportunity to think that they story was fiction. Adding fictional aspects was also a way to escape parental control over the novel. The feeling of your parents reading your novel can be very paralysing.
Eugen’s book has the same mixture of fact and fiction within it as parts of the story had to be invented. Fiction in some cases, can be more true than reality. Readers from East Germany feel like the novel is taking their history seriously and West Germany are curious about what really happened during that period of history. As a writer, Eugen feels it is important to keep out of your book as much as possible so you don’t influence the characters.
Where you consulted by the translator during the process? How do you feel about the English translation?
Patricio stated that he has worked with a lot of translators, they ultimately offer a different view of the book. He really likes how his books sound in English and feels like none of the musicality of the novel has been lost during the translation process. Sometimes writers don’t like what they write but they must write it. It is important to write a book that allows people to ask questions again.
Eugen didn’t met his English translator however they did talk over email. He feels like he can tell that the book has been translated by a woman, the rhythm is different and seems weaker.
With that final thought an hours discussion was brought to a close.