IFOA: What is it about the short story form that is attractive to you?
Andrej Blatnik: With the short story there’s no fooling around. Every mistake a writer makes is immediately visible. The story has to move in limited space and has no time to lose. And the reader has more space to fill with his or her own reflection or imagination—which is maybe the very reason that the novel is a more popular genre.
IFOA: How has your writing changed over time?
Blatnik: It became more condensed and yet more open to the reality outside of the text. I started writing in the early 80s when life in my country, Slovenia, was different: there were lots of subjects you couldn’t speak of, lots of questions you couldn’t ask. Literature was a chance to express things that couldn’t be expressed otherwise, and for a young person, it was an escape to an area where everything could be arranged according to your wishes. Some books were read at that time for reasons other than literary; they expressed alternative versions of history, alternative political ideas, etc. These times are gone, and while literature retained its absolute freedom of creation (especially if the writer is not occupied with the possibilities of publication and success!), it has lost its former social impact.
Blatnik: I’d love to translate a book of selected stories by Lydia Davis, concentrating on her shortest stories. I have a book of 50 stories no more than one page long, and when it was published in English (You Do Understand), quite a few people suggested I should have a look at her work—I did and I was immediately hooked.
IFOA: What are you reading right now?
Blatnik: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.
IFOA:Finish this sentence: It’s hard to believe, but…
Blatnik: …believing is hard nowadays.
Andrej Blatnik is a writer of both fiction and criticism. He has also worked as a translator, translating the work of Paul Bowes, among others. Join him on October 25 alongside other international authors as they discuss how the translation of their work into English has unlocked a universal audience that was unattainable in their native language.