Jáchym Topol, and Norman Manea, who lived during the Communist . www. Readings with Laurent Binet, Erri De Luca, György Dragomán, Jáchym Topol, Daniela .org/article/from-i-cant-stand-still-an-interview-with-jchym-topol. The Devil’s Workshop (paperback). The devil had his workshop here in Belarus. The deepest graves are in Belarus. But nobody knows about.
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That was hchym to us. We staggered down through the salty air to the seaside. The whole way we’d be gathering contacts nonstop. We got on jchhm train, on a car with a family of about a hundred Gypsies with their grandmother in a coffin. The Poles were the most rebellious.
And yet, Topol is no sentimentalist, nor are his characters. Why does that theme still resonate? If your hair was longer than in your passport, say. Reeds swaying in the wind. It was truly detailed field research.
Jáchym Topol’s Nightwork — Music & Literature
So this guy was suffering from the same obsession as me, at the same time: Nov 14, To: They didn’t have that in Poland, and the young Poles couldn’t understand what parasitism was and that you could be thrown in jail for not doing anything.
I bellowed out Czech pub songs, and the locals sang sentimental ballads to their grandmother and told us all sorts of stories that we didn’t understand to;ol word of.
Another interesting thing is that I wrote almost all those poems in another country—hardly ever in a hotel, usually in some hostel or dormitory. I mention my friends who stayed in newspapers intentionally, since unlike them I have another life.
The Devil’s Workshop
And now here I am doing the exact same thing! Walks and reading and some food here and there. Fortunately history—on my territory at least, in central Europe—went in a different direction. We staggered off the train supplied with enough food to last about half a year with reasonable management. What is it, you think, that draws you to this theme? And there were other foreign things that fascinated me, too. From then on, I went to Poland instead.
I wrote reportage, but some of it I also managed to put down in poetry, as you mentioned. The unnamed village in which Topol sets Nightwork —— a sort of Winesburg, Ohio in Mitteleuropa —— is populated by many different camps: I was happy just drinking wine and enjoying all the freedom in the middle of communism. I remember a fire by the sea in Poland, with two Hungarians, two Czechs, two Poles, and an East German sitting around trying to prove who had the nastiest regime.
The Polish hippies, and in general so-called troubled youth from all of Eastern Europe, would get together regularly on the site of the Black Madonna.
| The Devil’s Workshop, Jáchym Topol | | Boeken
Jhcym slept high up in a recess of the bunker, and I woke in total darkness and my feet were in the sea. A couple times I climbed up a tree like Hanzel, so at least I could see which direction I should go.
Of course these were the feelings of a nervous wreck, an uneducated endangered animal. They’d laugh and leave us on shore. We couldn’t afford it. To me writing poems seemed just as difficult and important as, say, splitting the atom. We traveled all over Israel, and drank bottles and bottles of wine every night—I think to keep us from going insane from all the things we were talking about.
How old were you then? I left my backpack in the nook, stripped naked, slipped into the cold water, dove down, and of course in a single breath without even opening my eyes I found the tunnel, and I was just about to start suffocating when I got to the surface and everything was like it used to be. A whole street full of Germans. I had a compartment to myself and the conductor kept an eye out to make sure nobody talked to me. But he gave me the thumbs-up, made a couple suggestions, so I was able to publish my first book just the way I wrote it.
It was a second birth, the bunker and nature had given birth to me.
The Jáchym Topol Interview
Just now I was thinking how that feeling of needing to be of service that drove my journalistic work in the underground and the first few years after the revolution had all drained out of me. So when I look ahead and see your next question, Why genocide? Why had they left them behind?
I would pretend I was writing postcards, since you were automatically suspicious to the working jchum if you tppol writing in a pub.
Lost in the wild! I waited for the tide to go out and went and got my pack. Translation copyright by Alex Zucker.