|Interview with E.J. Van Lanen of Open Letter Books|
The following are two interviews taken by Zdravka Evtimova during her residency at Open Letter Books (US) organized in the frame of the Literary Translators’ Residency project of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation.
Interview with E.J. Van Lanen, Open Letter Books’ senior editor.
So we want our criteria to be broad in the sense that Open Letter can accommodate both of these novels, but also specific: there is something (even many things) that both of these novels have in common despite their apparent differences. There is an element of thrill in both Zambra and Énard’s novels; they’re both high-wire acts, in their own way to be sure, but like high-wire acts, while they seem dangerous, the authors are really exhibiting an exquisite kind of practiced control--or anyway they have the ability to drunkenly stumble across the void and arrive safely at the other side. From the ground, it’s hard to differentiate one method from the other, I suppose. I couldn’t say how you identify that feeling in a novel, but when it’s there it’s hard to miss. And it’s absence is obvious as well. That excitement, that thrill, is the specific criteria we’re looking for. Well, there’s more to it than that, and less, but it’s as good as a description as I could offer at the moment.