Lila Azam Zanganeh: ‘I’ve always wanted to push myself to do things I don’t know how to do’

From The Guardian:

Lila-azam-zanganeh-007 Zanganeh, who is 34, has just published her first book, a deeply unconventional, even eccentric, study (although “study” is hardly the right word) of the Russian émigré writer. The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness is a book that's almost impossible to describe, being so unlike anything else I've ever come across. Although it contains elements of memoir, biography and criticism, it might more accurately be described as a playful, semi-fictionalised sequence of elaborations – or variations – on the experience of being a passionate Nabokov reader. There's no linear narrative, no sustained argument. Its approach is episodic, fragmentary.

Each chapter addresses the central theme – Nabokov's concept of happiness – from a fresh angle. So one chapter, inspired by a Q&A passage in James Joyce's Ulysses, consists of the complete transcript of an imaginary interview between Zanganeh and Nabokov that took place, she tells us, on the shores of Lake Como “about 10 months after he completed Ada” (that is, nearly a decade before she was born). Another is a compendium of dazzling Nabokovian words, replete with definitions: “cochlea”, “hymenopteroid”, “lambency”, “uvula”. Other chapters are slightly more conventional: biographical snapshots, summaries of Nabokov's great works. There are commentaries on celebrated passages and accounts of encounters with Nabokov's son, Dmitri, whom Zanganeh befriended while writing the book. There are drawings, photographs, typographical oddities.

More here.