English Interviu Nr. 221

Literatura română în Europa. Interviu cu Cătălin Pavel

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În 2010, romanul „Aproape a şaptea parte din lume” de Cătălin Pavel a fost desemnat câștigătorul Concursului de Debut Literar UniCredit (secţiunea roman), concurs organizat de Editura Humanitas.

„«Aproape a şaptea parte din lume» face notă aparte în peisajul prozei româneşti actuale – scrie Liviu Papdima în justificarea juriului pentru premiul UniCredit. E un roman a cărui acţiune se petrece peste tot şi nicăieri: în lunecarea fără de sfârşit a roţilor de tren, în siturile arheologice din deşertul african, în Stockholm şi în Timişoara şi, mai ales, în gândurile întortocheate ale personajelor şi în dialogurile întretăiate dintre acestea, purtate la distanţă, prin intermediul cuvântului scris – o singură dată telefonic; un roman cu personaje bizare şi provocatoare, al căror destin şi ale căror traume se revelează cu încetul, într-un balans al prezentului şi al trecutului, al spunerilor şi al tăcerilor.Stravechea metaforă a vieţii ca o călătorie, cu destinaţie întotdeauna incertă, îşi găseşte în «Aproape a şaptea parte din lume» o reîntrupare modernă surprinzătoare. Combinaţie inedită de patos şi inteligenţă, scris cu nerv stilistic autentic, cu priză la detaliu şi cu darul formulării pregnante, romanul îl poartă pe cititor prin meandrele unei aventuri existenţiale seducătoare.“

Despre acest roman, apărut în 2010, la Editura Humanitas, Cătălin Pavel vorbește și în interviul acordat jurnalistului Terry Verbiest, la Bozar Festival, organizat  la Bruxelles, în 2019, în cadrul festivalului Europalia, interviu pe care vă invităm să-l citiți în acest număr al Literomaniei.


Terry Verbiest: You are an archaeologist and a novelist. How does one thing have an influence on the other?- or maybe there are no influences and they are totally different?

Cătălin Pavel: It strikes me now that while archaeologist is a word derived from the Greek word for „old”, „novelist” ultimately comes from the Latin word for ”new”. So you’d think doing both at the same time was kind of contradictory. Like loading a truck while unloading it, right?, I mean, make up your mind… Now, this may be just a post-factum rationalization, but probably both jobs have a lot to do with the hold the past has on us. Archaeologists set about reconstructing not pots, but past lives. Writers do pretty much the same thing – they bring to life their own past, which is the raw material of everything they model, really. Of course, this past can sometimes be disguised in a novel as somebody else’s future. At any rate, writers will ponder and obsess like nobody’s business over what hurt them and shaped them and, of course, over what they lost. Archaeologists are themselves experts in the manifold destructions that occurred in the past. A bunch of fishy figures dealing in the past, I’ll give you that.

T.V.: When I see the subject of your books, at first sight they are very different from each other. Or am I wrong?

C.P.: So wrong it’s endearing… No, basically my novels are always about the same thing, how a guy loves this woman and then there’s problems, or how a guy looks around him, whether in a parking lot or in a forest, and goes oh my God, look at ALL THE DETAILS! The literary avatars of our topics of choice may seem many, but behind them lurk just a couple of major hopes and fears.

T.V.: The Seventh part of the world or there abouts, your first novel has a beautiful title. I will surely read it in French, “La septième partie du monde” (Non Lieu, Paris, 2017). The French reviews in „Revue des deux mondes” and „Actualitté” were good. How would you describe it in your own words?

C.P.: I was basically telling the story of a Romanian surgeon who travels back and forth across Europe without ever getting off the train. Now when a man sells everything andrides the train day and night for five years in a row, sleeping in sleeping cars and eating in restaurant cars, without music and without friends, you would expect that this world must quickly become rather run-of-the mill, right? My point was that sucha voyager, devoid of all of his earthly possessions, could nowkeep himself busy withthe sheer beauty of the world and particularly with an honest effort to understand his own messed-up past. This happens through his email correspondence with his son who is, of all places, in Africa, in Mali. It is through this correspondence that I, the no-new-tricks-to-an-old-dog narrator, gradually unveil Zoran’s love story with a Tuareg woman. So I guess I just wanted to juxtapose the narrative of a citoyen du monde in his high-speed trains through Western and Eastern Europe to that of a boy in the Sahel, helping out a British archaeological expedition, with memories of civil wars and some more or less hilarious coming-of-age exploits. In my mind this was meant to be a novel about the nuts and bolts of language, as well as about the interchangeable centers and peripheries of a globalized world. I doubt I succeeded in the original book, but frankly “La septième partie du monde”, the French translation that you mentioned, by the amazing Florica Courriol, seems to me to be one step closer to that.

T.V.: What do people in Belgium (or the West) should know about Romanian literature? Who else should be translated?

C.P.: In the unlikely event that a Belgian citizen’s life ever depended on giving a brief assessment of Romanian literature, they should remember this piece of inside infomation: Romanian literature, despite being produced in a small language and backed by a tiny book market, is written by broad-minded and big-hearted people. I can easily imagine a pragmatic Western publisher skimming through the catalogues of local publishing houses such as Humanitas, Polirom, Nemira, or Cartea Românească, looking for their best-selling Romanian novels. However, it’s probably best for them to resort to the services of cultural ambassadors, who can recommend books that would be a good match with their respective markets. And the cultural ambassadors they are looking for can only be the translators. The translator is the best cultural interface there is, the real Agent 007 of the international literary network.

Sursă foto: aici

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1 comentariu

  • Era bine ca interviul cu Cătălin Pavel sa fie tradus în română sau măcar în franceză. Doar romanul era tradus în franceza. Mulți dintre noi știm doar o engleză uzuala, lipsită de finețurile limbii în care a scris francofilul Julian Barnes. Adina, o rugaminte:traduceți românește pentru Dumnezeu!

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