David Albahari is the author of Gotz and Meyer a truly great book (and our first Fiction Book of the Month, awarded February 2004) reliving the slaughter, in the summer of 1942, of the majority of Serbia's Jews ...
Mark Thwaite Why Gotz and Meyer? What made you want to write this particular story?
David Albahari "I've known for years that the story about the holocaust of the Serbian Jewish community has never been told, and I was waiting for the right voice to tell it. I thought that it was, in a way, my duty to write about it, and not only about the story itself but also about how one deals with that terrible legacy today."
MT How do you write? Longhand, straight onto the computer? How much research do you do?
DA "Sometimes I write the first version of a story or a novel in longhand, and then I use my computer to write the more or less final version. There are times, however, when it goes the other way: I use my computer first, print the text, and then with a pen in my hand I make corrections and write the final version. A book like Gotz and Meyer involved a lot of research since it deals with a real event in history, but most of my fiction is contemporary so I don't have to do any research. I have to dig through my heart, of course, but it's not researching - it is a way to learn about one's happiness and pain."
MT What is coming next?
DA "A simple novel about love and hate, if one can write about love and hate in a simple way."
MT What is your favourite book/who is your favourite writer?
DA "My favourite book is Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. And my favourite writer is Thomas Bernhard. (And of course, if one really likes books, it is impossible to have only one favourite book and one favourite writer. There's a whole library of my favourites, including books by Beckett, Pynchon, Handke, Barthelme, Cortazar, McEwan...)"
MT What book do you wish you had written?
DA "Ulysses, of course. But in my language."
MT Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer!?
DA "Read as much as you can, and never, never stop reading. Be careful when you are given advice by other writers. And don't forget that the only true teacher is your heart."
MT Thank you, David.