Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Excerpt From My First American Interview (and Most Likely the Last)

I just gave my first American interview. I hope it won't be the last. I always like giving interviews, the more ridiculous the better. And I want you to know that I always try not to take myself too seriously. Writers with huge egos have to appear humble and I'm very, very humble.

Also, I just received a great review in the October issue of The Believer, a very important literary journal in San Francisco.

I must admit I'd never heard of The Believer before it reviewed The Tsar's Dwarf but now I think it's the most insightful and brillant journal in the US.

But let's get on with it. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Jacob Aiello at The Portland Fiction Project.

What kind of personal meaning does The Tsar's Dwarf have for you?

I've written twelve novels, and The Tsar's Dwarf is one of my three favorites because I think it succeeds in being truly tragicomic. Maybe I'm mistaken but I hope I've succeeded and that my American audience will like it.

In my review of your The Tsar's Dwarf, I compare Sørine to Günter Grass' Oskar from The Tin Drum. What do you make of that comparison? Did you base Sørine's character on any other figure–either fictional or in real life? How much of your own life's experiences go into your writing?

I love being compared to Nobel prize winners. Frankly, it doesn't happen often enough.

No, all kidding aside, I never thought of The Tin Drum. Halfway through the book, however, some one told me about The Dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist, the Swedish nobel prize winner. I read it and copied about four lines from it. It's a great book but it's about evil, mine is not. I love my main character Sørine. She's troubled but like most people she's not evil!

In The Tsar's Dwarf, there's an argument between the tsar's envoy Vasily Dolgoruky and Rasmus Æreboe wherein the Russian Dolgoruky confronts the Danish Æreboe with a slew of insults about his homeland: "You have no proper artists, no proper artisans. You can't even produce any proper idiots! Everyone is equally mediocre in spirit." As a Dane, what was it like to write those words into one of your own character's mouth?

I loved it because it's so true. Denmark is probably the most mediocre country in the world - in the best sense of the word. We're the most equalitarian nation on earth - we're all very alike and suppose not to stand out. And what I find fascinating is that the rest of the world thought so too in the late 17th century. Back then Robert Molesworth, a cruel Englishman (aren't they all?) wrote a book about Denmark that insulted our King, our country, and our national traits. Wonderful stuff. And this is coming from a man, me, who's actually a Danish patriot!

Before The Tsar's Dwarf comes out this fall, the only way American audiences will have been able to read your writing (unless they can read French, Portuguese or Danish) is from your blog, Danish Accent. How does writing a blog affect your literary writing? Does it enhance or detract from your writing time? Does it inspire you at all? What role do you think sites like Facebook, Myspace, or blogs have in the literary world right now? Are they an advantage or a detraction?

I love writing my blog. It's actually my training ground for writing in English and my next novel will have the samme funny awkward voice I hope comes through in Danish Accent.

I don't really know what significance Facebook and My Space are going to have in the future. Maybe they're just going to be a fad. However, I think they're magic for artists promotion wise. But in terms of literary significance, I don't think they're gonna make much of a difference. I mean, I don't really consider it an art form when I show nude pictures from my vacation in Saudi Arabia.

What were you doing in Saudia Arabia? Research for some future book, perhaps?

I've never been to Saudia Arabia. That was totally a joke. I apologize!

What are you working on right now?

I just started on a novel that takes place in the 1800s in Portugal and the 1500s in Italy. It's about identity and I'm writing it in English and then in Danish. That has been my "secret" agenda all the time - to come over and teach in the US and totally abuse your language.

You can read the review of The Tsar's Dwarf at The Portland Fiction Project here.

So far 55 people have reviewed it on and it's not even out untill October 1st.

You can see my book tour dates in the blog below. Thanks for wasting your time with me. You should know better!
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