literary festival writers on writing

One of the highlights of the past few weeks has been listening to voices from all over the world describe the act of writing. It’s almost as though each of them had their own unique job description. With the festival wrapping up tonight, I thought I’d share some of what I was able to scribble down during workshops and presentations I attended:

“Look at the world closely enough and it will reveal itself to you, and it will give you authority. Let the subject reveal itself to you: This is the source of an artist’s authority.”

–Eoin McNamee (Ireland)
Event: Perception and Form in the Short Story

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“We don’t know, when we write. We sleepwalk…layers and layers…characters come to the surface naturally. It is not self-fiction. I am surrounded by singers. Voices sing out pain through me.”

–Dany Laferriére (Haiti/Canada)
Event: After the Revolution: How Literature Confronts Political Turmoil

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“If a 50-60 year old says it, he’s a fascist. If I say it, it’s a fact.”

–Santiago Roncagliolo (Peru), explaining the younger generation’s freedom to write critically about both sides in the conflict between Shining Path guerillas and the Peruvian government.
Event: After the Revolution: How Literature Confronts Political Turmoil

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“It’s not true that history is written by the winners. Those who write history are those free to do so.”

–Paul Ham (Australia)
Event: Ways of Telling the Past

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“I certainly don’t think he would’ve liked me very much.”

–Janette Jenkins (UK), on writing a novel about Noël Coward.
Event: Ways of Telling the Past

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“The writer’s job is to control the experience of the reader. Readers don’t get different things from a book. Bad readers are just misreading.”

–David Vann (USA)
Event: Where to begin…?

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“The science fiction writer is someone whose body is in one place, but their spirit is traveling untold lengths of distance.”

–Ling Chen (China)
Event: Global Science Fiction

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“Objective high journalism…eye of God…it doesn’t work. I cannot ignore my own bias.”

–Benjamin Law (Australia), describing his encounters with Malaysian Christian fundamentalists who claim to have been “cured” of homosexuality.
Event: Hybrid Identity, Hybrid Voices

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“The writer is a sort of chameleon.”

–Petra Hulová (Czech Republic)
Event: Hybrid Identity, Hybrid Voices

 

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