Nell Zink Discusses Things

Lisa Borst interviews Nell Zink at Bookforum:

I was reading the kinds of essays, in German, that academics write about the kinds of things that Peter is obsessed with. But my big reading event of that period was the diaries of Victor Klemperer—one of the great reading experiences of my life. It’s like if Proust were not about venal parties. It’s nonfiction, and takes place from 1933 to 1945 in Germany, from the point of view of a middle-age Jewish intellectual who survived it all out in the open, because he had a so-called Aryan wife who stood by him. He lived without having to go to a camp. And it’s so incredibly moving, because it’s a diary, so as he’s writing it, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen. There are constant bits like, Hitler’s going to get voted out. He’s going to lose the war. Everybody secretly hates him, nobody takes this guy seriously. The Americans will be here next week. It’s the most magnificent book.

Because of that, I had it on the brain that it’s possible for a book to be truly good. And, not being Victor Klemperer, I thought—well, it’s not like he’s such a great writer, but he was unbelievably brave to do it at all, and his wife was unbelievably brave to smuggle his diary pages across town for safekeeping. Everybody was brave as shit to make this book exist. It makes you think writing books is not a complete waste of time, which is always a good starting point.

more here.