Interview for Brazilian newspaper Hoje Em Dia about the book The Zahir.
In the columns I keep the constant exercise of synthesis, which helps me to be in contact with the act of writing. However, the themes are more varied than those of a book – usually legends of different cultures, or experiences I went through.
Minas really gave us not only writers (and you forgot to mention Fernando Sabino, for example), but excellent musicians, painters, and the independence martyr. A state that actively participates in the country’s cultural and political life.
The unexpected happens – and we are not always prepared for it. When everything in our life seems organised, there is the danger. Because what they call “organisation”, in fact, is just a story that they told us, and that does not support itself. In the book, I try to explore the story they didn’t tell us, using as a main character a successful writer, who is suddenly abandoned by his wife, and has to rediscover his life. But instead of taking a step forward and discovering other opportunities, he lets himself be dominated by the question “why did my wife leave me”, and that becomes his Zahir. This idea of obsession has always seduced me, and now I have managed to put it into words. As for the autobiographical part, it is not only in “The Zahir” but in all my books. I can’t write about something I haven’t experienced.
We have all of our Zahirs in life – things that negatively focus our attention, but which we cannot get rid of. It is very different from the concept of personal legend – a dream that must be fulfilled, but that requires us to adapt, and above all, joy.
What really influences me is human contact.
As for Iraq, Bush and his advisers have entered a minefield – and now it will be very difficult to leave. But it is superficial to generalise, and to start to develop an anti-American feeling.
In the columns, I divide my day-to-day. In the case of books, I never think about the themes – they choose me. I usually need two years to let something new mature.
The same as any responsible citizen: fight for everyone to accept that they are responsible for the future of the planet.