So yes when he did get the well-deserved award at the V&A event just after we had nervously dug into the pudding and Dame Mariner Warner announced with extreme clarity his name at 9.36 pm on the night of May 19,th I replayed how we came to be included in his community of publishers. A honour and a privilege. A tiny warm tale of the generousity of his publisher Barbara after George Carrol our Seattle based representative had sown the seed.
Let it unfold now as it did then. Here is Barabara Epler of New Directions who understand, like Tarkovsy did, that a gifting involves a sacrifice for it to have any meaning:
I am a great admirer of Seagull Books, and they produce gorgeous things, and wait till you meet Naveen: there is only one! Which is a pity in his case. I of course am by nature a greedy creature and want ALL your work but to have a book with Seagull will be a very good experience I think and they are game for essays and while I would like to bring out some of your essays, I feel we should concentrate first on your fiction, and as George promises to transate more we should decide what he should tackle next for ND.
How does that sound? A non-fiction book with Seagull and getting now to a decision of your next ND novel or novella or stories? What would you think would be best for us next?
I am like a child and when a ball is taken away it is best to immediately hand me another or I might start wailing...
Much love to you and Dorka,
and we will think of you tonight as we moon gaze
I still get this warm tingle when I read this this this after all is what our wonderful literary world is like. A sharing from the heart. A community.
And later when the excitement of having got his book was still simmering I wrote to him requesting as I do each year a text for our catalogue:
2013/5/15 From: Naveen Kishore
Dear dear Lazlo . . . not sure you received my request for a contribution to Seagull's new catalogue . . . as you may be aware we do one each year for Frankfurt and invite contributions form our authors and translators . . . the theme this year is Notebooks . . . I will of course be happy to get it translated . . . I hope the theme will appeal to you in quite the same way I am appealing to you for a contribution:
In the age of the ‘new blank document’ what happens to those of us who keep faith in the notebook? Do I dare ask this question of a writer? Notes that we keep for ourselves. Like thieving magpies. Notes that are full of love and loathing at the same time; notes that became stories long and short; notes of longing and of dreams shared; nightmares recorded to ward off evil perhaps; notes of disgust at the dark times and the elected hollow men who rule our daily lives; notes that we may have written under stress, even in anger; notes full of fear, jealousy, lies, deceit; furtive notes that under the cloak of friendship ease the stiletto into the shoulder blades; notes of gratification and hunger ; introspective notes and those full of reflection at the fate of our species; notes of change and of regret; economic, intimate, transient and immortal notes that smell of sweat and human excreta; of forced intimacies and sexual fantasy; of failure and aging before time; of death; notes that promise a future that is illusionary; notes that are intimately bound up with our way of being the language bearers of humanity; notes that you may scarcely glance over once you actually dip that pen into the inkpot or those that you would refer to again and again; yes notebooks that are nevertheless inseparable.
My warmest regards, always
From: László Krasznahorkai
To: Naveen Kishore
Sent: Friday, 17 May 2013 3:46 PM
Subject: Re: Notebook
I hope you are very-very well.
Thank you very much your new email -- and please, forget my late answer.
First: it's not absolut clear me what's in in your wonderful poetic invitation.
Please, explain me a bit better what's about.
New black document against notebook?
Notebook against the new blank document?
You write. " In the age of the ‘new blank document’ what happens to those of us who keep faith in the notebook?
What do you think about exactly?
And I send you, of course, with pleasure, the text ...
Excuse me, I am a true stupid ...
A big hug,
2013/5/17 From: Naveen Kishore
Ah dear dear Laszlo . . . I greet you with a bug hug too . . . you are not stupid, just big . . . big of heart for sure! Thank you. I will try and explain and I will also seek Rachel's help in explaining if I fail!
—'new blank document' is what happens when you open a page on the computer. So what I mean to say is that in this world of technology we all stare at a blank page before we begin to 'write'. The writing is actually happening on a computer! BUT what about people like you and me who still use a pen and a good old fashioned notebook! In which we are able to dip the pen and write with ink!
—I am imagining that as a writer you keep notes to yourself of all kinds. Often these are mental notes not written in a physical notebook or journal but in the notebook or journal INSIDE your head!
—I compare writers to the bird Magpie which is know to collect strange things! So like the Magpie do you also collect strange emotions/thoughts/ideas . . . ?
—the rest of my letter is all about the possible kinds of emotions/notes that writers may deal with in the process of writing.
I hope this is helpful?
I will also copy in Rachel in the hope that she will add to what I am attempting to say.
Fri, 17 May 2013 at 20:25
from László Krasznahorkai
everything is clear like a forgotten creek in a forgotten mountains! it's enough, of course! I didn't understand just the word "notebook", because this word has an other meaning, as well, namely even a kind of computer ...
So now my stupid head can start to think what can I do! Because I have used since my first text - and before! before! - my HEAD ONLY! Not a notebook, not ink, nothing, only my head, that means, I wrote and write my sentences first for ready in my head, and if I am finished with 10 or 20 or often 30 pages then I wrote down with using a typewriter in the 70th, later computer in the 80th or these years laptop etc. But I really UNDERSTAND YOU and your thoughts are wonderful – and I start to think what can I apply to your magical words!
Until when can I do that?
A big hug again,
Here is the text he wrote for the Seagull catalogue:
With a Chisel
Because it doesn't matter whatever happens to turn up at that moment, whether it's a chisel, a brush, a pen, or a typewriter, it doesn't matter if you already have a computer, a laptop, a tablet, an iPhone or GoogleGlass, it really doesn't matter at all, because the whole thing is born anyway in your soul first of all, in your brain, in your spirit, in your body, and so, well, as for that, not only is it born there, but its essence remains there as well; because to chisel into the stone, paint onto the rice paper, write into a notebook, or with a typewriter, on a computer, a laptop, and so on, completely, entirely, is in no way possible, something does not penetrate there into the stone, onto the paper, or onto the virtual canvas of the machines, something – the essence – remains in your soul, in your body, in your nerve-cells, in the flashes between the nerve-cells, and this is the only thing that matters, this Intransmissable, that which is in no way capable of being put down in writing, and that is exactly why they read us: because they postulate, because they believe, because they anticipate that for us, dear poets and writers, there exists this preliminary susceptibility, this flash between the nerve cells, because they read the words that we have written down, and these words persuade them, our readers, that these words, written down, came before us, in that discernment in the flash between the nerve cells, the intuition of the boundless dominion, originating-perishing, of all of space and all of time, of that vastness, which, even if we postulate it, even if we name it, not only with words, but even in thought, can never be approached; and in which there really cannot be formulated, and therefore cannot be written down the immeasurable Small Contribution of human existence to this boundless inaccessibility: our emotions are there all the same, with those we do contribute a little to the Great Unknown, starting from desire, through repulsion, to love; this is what our readers read from our words: that we, masters of the word, we are the ones, before the enunciation and the writing down of our words, who have a view of the fact that there exists in this Great Unknown, between all created human beings, a formidable, indissoluble collectivity, and that is why they read us, even if they cannot read this from the words, because the words only allude to the fact that we are the ones: the words of a drama threaded together, who before threading the words together, suddenly perceive, in that moment of’ susceptibility, that which we call human fate in this Gigantic Enigma, so that we are the ones, who for this reason, get involved with words, although knowing full well that words can only evoke, but cannot describe, and so can't even transmit what is seen, which perhaps was understood with the heart in that split second flash, that tiny, momentary, was-isn't-blotch in this Great Whole, that boundlessly tiny something in the Inconceivable Universe: a person, this Whimpering Nothing with his emotions: – and then we come with our words, and we try to alloy ourselves into the trace of that which is not possible, we come with our words, a brush, a pen, a typewriter with a piece of paper in it, with a computer, a laptop, with GoogleGlass, into that virtual space, or if we have already annihilated everything around us, then — once more and again: with a chisel, into the stone. Again, and yet again, we come with our words, and their trust is placed in us.
(Translated by Ottilie Mulzet)
And to think it would be two years to the day when we would finally meet for that big and promised hug!
Much will be written about this wonderful author and literary figure in the days and lifetimes to come.
I want to meanwhile salute Barbara Epler and New Directions and George and Rachel for making it all happen in the spirit of the world of publishing that independents inhabit and share. As a community.
Naveen Kishore is Publisher, Seagull Books.
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