Where do you write? What does your working space look like?
I write in my bedroom, which resembles a monastic cell. The only furniture is a desk, a chest of drawers, and a bed. In lieu of a cross, a Magritte tree. The room is uterine, interior, a place for maceration, like a cabin. The desk is small and black, just enough for a computer. There is a mirror on the wall; I talk to it while I write. There are hardly any other objects: a mug, dictionaries, a meditation bowl.
What was the experience of working with the book’s translator, Julia Sanches, like? How closely did you work together on the English edition? Did you offer any specific guidance or advice? Were there any surprising moments during your collaboration, or joyful moments, or challenges?
Working with Julia Sanches is a joy. Boulder isn’t the first novel of mine she’s translated, which means she knows me, my writing, and my terrain; she knows when the path is flat and when the dunes are variable, and she knows how to take up and translate the landscape of my writing, which in her hands becomes a shared space where the two of us meet. A translated novel is always a co-authorship, and I am lucky to share this with Julia Sanches. Just as I write in solitude, she translates in solitude, which is how she makes the work her own and adds her own authorship, that special, valuable ingredient. After this intense process, we meet and solve any questions that come up. Just knowing Julia is working on my writing, that my protagonist is in her hands, like a figurine she is teaching a new language to and prepping for a trip to another culture, is a reason for celebration.
Why do you feel it’s important for us to celebrate translated fiction?
Literature is art, it is human creation, and this makes it universal. The fact that translation can take literature outside the borders of its original language is a gift, and I believe gifts shouldn’t be ignored, that they come with an obligation. Celebrating translated fiction means celebrating the human capacity for courage and domestication: that we can take a work, mount it like a horse, and send it anywhere in the world as a messenger. Thanks to translation, the message is able to travel and not lose its way, to reach its destination and not be misunderstood; translation moves treasures from one place to another, expanding our heritage, leaving no one the poorer.
If you had to choose three works of fiction that have inspired your career the most, what would they be and why?
Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Ovid’s Metamorphoses is grounded in Greco-Roman tradition, which is in large part also my tradition. They’re a game, a poetic game that is incredibly baroque and fun, luxurious and filled with images that nourish and awaken my subconscious. Rereading Ovid means connecting with that subconscious, opening the doors to goddesses and monsters, to a natural world that is at once divine and human, bound. Ovid is inexhaustible, inspiring.
The Diaries of Katherine Mansfield. If my bedroom is a monastic cell, Mansfield’s diaries rest on the bedside table like a bible. To me, Katherine Mansfield is the how. How she says what she says is the enigma of beauty. When I feel I’m not writing well, I stop writing. And I read Mansfield’s diaries.
Mercè Rodoreda’s Death in Spring. Death in Spring is a celebration, a wonderful bacchanalia dedicated to life, literature, the impossible, and the wild, mysterious nature of that untouchable thing we call imagination. What is untouchable? With every phrase, every comma and every full-stop, Mercè Rodoreda places it beneath your eyes and nose, warm, vibrant and unobstructed. It leaves me drunk. Sick with happiness, beauty, and passion.