x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Andrey Kurkov on how authors fight to make dreams a reality

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair: The Ukranian novelist's books include two amusing journeys into life after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Andrey Kurkov says storytelling is
Andrey Kurkov says storytelling is "not about showing the readers how inaccessibly clever the author is". Courtesy Andrey Kurkov

Andrey Kurkov's books include Death and the Penguin and its sequel, Penguin Lost, two surreal tales that wander into the heart of life after the break-up of the Soviet Union

I got my big break ... in April 1997 when, after 18 years of sending my manuscripts to publishers and agents, I received a positive answer from the Swiss publishing house Diogenes, which accepted my novel Death and the Penguin. It later became a bestseller and opened doors for me to other publishers abroad, and at home, too.

The book that inspired me to write was ... Jack London's Martin Eden. I loved his stubbornness and readiness to fight for his dream to become reality. In a way, it helped me a lot in my fight for recognition.

The author I'd most like to meet is ... Maxim Gorky. He was shaping himself and his life to become great writer. He understood that he had to try lots of things to be able to write about people. And he did. He walked hundreds of kilometres, doing odd jobs, working in salt mines and transporting watermelons on a river barge. He became a citizen of the world.

The advice I'd give to any writer is ... always remember your readers. Don't pass on to them your hate of one character or another.

The place I work best is ... a long-distance flight, like Singapore to Frankfurt. I wrote two chapters for a novel and an article for TheNew York Times during one flight.

The art of storytelling is all about ... storytelling, not about showing the readers how inaccessibly clever the author is.

The thing I hope people take from my work is ... optimism, a reason to laugh and to think, and information about life in post-Soviet Ukraine.

What I most hope to see in Abu Dhabi are ... readers and the city, harmony between people and desert, harmony between old and modern (or lack of these harmonies). It'll be my first time in the city.

I am most creative when ... I don't watch TV and don't read newspapers.

Andrey Kurkov will be in conversation with Ed Nawotka from 6pm on April 25 in the ADIBF Tent.

nmarch@thenational.ae

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