At Music and Literature:
Jinny: How do the topics of language and writing in the novel reinforce and strengthen Dagestani identity?
AG: You know, when I was writing the novel I thought that maybe the readership would be confined to people interested in the Caucasus specifically—people who lived there, or people who work in the field as linguists, or maybe journalists—but it turned out that the topics raised there are quite universal. The concepts of walls being built around us, of isolation and alienation between people and races, and of nationalism started to thrive right after this novel came out in Russian. There was Brexit; there was Trump’s election. There were so many things. The immigration crisis in Europe. Real walls started to be built. That was so bizarre to witness, especially when the so-called Islamic State was created. In my novel, I was just thinking about this virtual state being erected and the Caucasus being a part of it. It’s interesting to me how local things turn out to be universal, and language barriers turn out to not be as insurmountable as they seem.