French writer and translator Marie Darrieussecq, known for breaking new frontiers in literature, was recently in Chennai to attend a ‘Meet and Greet’ program organized by the Prabha Khaitan Foundation under its ‘The Universe Writes’ initiative in association with Alliance Française . DC spoke with the author of the renowned work platitudes (pig tales) and winner of the Prix Medicis, a French literary prize. Read on for excerpts from the conversation.
On his time with readers in Chennai
This is my second time in Chennai. I was here in early 2006 for an Alliance Française event. Most of the audience this time were students and teachers, and some were my readers. I was surprised by the level of his French and the quality of the questions. We talked about my childhood in a trilingual family (Basque, Spanish and French), the right to write what goes through our heads, the power of the imagination and why it’s not just about writing an autobiography. We also talk about spirituality, animal rights and how they influence my writing. We talk about nature and we talk about how the oceans are getting polluted with plastic.
On his innovative style of writing, which does not follow specific literary rules
I do not write for an elite readership. When I write, I always think of my grandmother, who loved to read, but was put off by incomprehensible rules and poetic formats. My ambition has always been to write good books that address the intelligence and meaning of poetry of the majority of readers. I also try to be a good storyteller without giving in to cheap tricks and I hope my books are fun too. I don’t like to dwell on sad things without giving them my personal touch.
On its universally appealing characters, who particularly resonate with female readers
Half of my novels come from my direct experiences as a woman on this planet. The other half is out of imagination or what other people were willing to share with me.
About her female characters who look like her
They are me, if I hadn’t become a published writer. They are my mother and my friends. My novels are often a tribute to my older brother, who died when he was only two days old in 1966, and a tribute to my bereaved parents, who never got a chance to write, or even, in a way, speak to the world. regard. . My novels can also be read as feminist novels, although their meaning is open. I also like to work a lot with dreams. I often write like a dreamer.
On Contemporary Indian Writers and Indian Literature
I like the works of Arundhati Roy. She is a great figure in France. I’ve read the classics like Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand. I have also recently read Anita Desai, Kiran Desai and Suketu Metah, and have a deep admiration for Vandana Shiva, whom I will meet in Chandigarh at an upcoming event.
about the pandemic
Covid has disrupted the entire world order and it has been very hard. We had a personal loss and we couldn’t even bury him properly. The youngest of my three children, who was 11 at the time, was suffering from deep depression and still needs psychiatric treatment. He has been out of school for over a year due to the lockdowns and his condition, and also out of sports and the gym, which were extremely important to his balance. He is a little champion (smiles). To add insult to injury, he was subjected to harassment on social networks during the running of the bulls. She is on the mend now and I was able to accept this invitation to India and get back to my work as a writer, a work that never stops, no way.
Post-Covid, I see how social networks have become another pandemic, since my other two children are dedicating time to it.
I feel that the pandemic has taken away a part of our spirit, a part of our mental and physical energy. The French government did well during the time of the fighting, but the scars left by the pandemic were severe economically and, more importantly, socially. It is obvious that the writers, including myself, will do something about this world historical event. I’ll probably write a novel, I won’t go on with a diary, because I think the novel is the way I’m able to embrace the complexity of life, including the chaos, and put some storytelling into it through fictional characters, to be able to to reach readers better than directly.
About projects in the pipeline
I have four projects lined up, including a science fiction novel! I’m always a little afraid of dying before finishing all the novels I have in mind.