Leila Samarrai: A good author is he who isn’t afraid to speak his mind


Leila Samarrai: A good author is he who isn’t afraid to speak his mind

Interviewed by Tamara Lujak for the online magazine Afirmator.

My interview for the online magazine Afirmator (in Serbian)

A master of the short story form, Leila Samarrai is a published award-winning author. She loves writing, stating that literature is her life, she dreams of having her own manager, like American authors do. Inspired by the Pythons, Charlie Chaplin, as well as everyday events in Serbia, she writes brief, jocular, satirical short stories, filled with anger and bitterness of relief. Delve for a moment into this world of hers.

 

What is the author’s mission?

LS: His mission is to be a good writer and that’s about it. I think this was the main thesis of Joseph Brodsky.

 

Why do you write?

LS: I write out of pleasure, and because I think I have something to say.

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Where do you get your ideas from?

LS: It’s simple, I bang my hand against the table, a genie appears from the magic lamp, bows and says “What’ll ya have, oh Magistra Ludi?!” I then make a wish that gets instantly fulfilled.

 

What makes good poetry or art and how would you define the craft of the poets?

LS: Art is a game. Poetry as well. At the end of the day, you either know how to play it or not…

 

What, according to you, is a good author?

LS: A good author is he who isn’t afraid to speak his mind; he who dictates the art of the verse. A scribbler who merely keeps quiet and enjoys being lauded is nothing but a reader with nothing of importance to do. He whose written word trickles from his wounds into the world and onto paper is not afraid to both praise and criticize, this is what he strives towards.

 

What is literature and the purpose of art to you?

LS: Survival of the human species.

 

How did you come to the idea of publishing Boris K. (Everest Media, Belgrade, 2013)?

LS: In the age of absurd events in Serbia, which clash common sense, it wasn’t all that difficult to be inspired, to write an absurd satire in the manner of Monty Python, or even Chaplin or a science fiction space-time traveler, which would reflect reality in the mirror of old woman Valentine. Pythonesque burlesques interspersed with a Kafkaesque atmosphere reflected in the name of the titular hero are merely some of the references that build up the overall feel of the novel. Why Kafkaesque? Because Boris K. is, even with all of his Johnny Bravo capabilities, merely a regular, tiny man in a sophisticated cog of the system which makes mincemeat of the sophisticated, but grinds it well. The Johnny Bravo effect, the muscles of the superhero are but a part of this comedy of the absurd, because the hyperboles I like utilizing, sometimes to their upper limits in order to strengthen the absurd and highlight it in the process, are but one piece of the comedy and that comedy, so to speak, gets more comical.

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At International Belgrade Book Fair, with Zoran Stefanovic, the reviewer of my book “The Adventures Of Boris K”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoran_Stefanovi%C4%87

How did Boris K. come about?

LS: First of all, if we don’t take into account the scientific theories of existence of parallel universes, in the present day Serbia as it is, unfortunately, we can notice that in order to merely survive the people need to live in some sort of personal universe, to be ‘deluded’, as the British would say. Those with more creativity can craft up to five-six roles… Don’t many of the Munchausens find refuge in their own lies? Still, Boris K. moves through worlds of alternative history and his fate is resolved in a satirical science fiction novel which is in the process of creation, and all of this close to the encounter with the aliens of civilization number 5. But more on this some other time…

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Can we expect a sequel to Boris K.’s adventures?

LS: As someone who feels at home with long form writing, I admit that would be rather easy work were it not extremely difficult to someone whom struggles with rationality, mathematical focus and dramatic precision, but let’s say it takes time for the plot to come together, the answer is as follows: you can, the ideas are everywhere (I agree with Plato on this one), maybe not as soon as I would want them to. Boris K. is not just a short story, he is an omnipresent avatar and a portrait of an undisciplined, yet witty cosmopolitan man. And he demands only the best of plots, a beginning, plot points, my favorite peripety and a witty resolution with hints of bitter irony aimed at the society around us.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

LS: Like a sculptor I chisel away at a novel made of tangled tales waging wars for each individual sentence. This work does not demand precision in the sense of a well-rounded plot, it is fantasy in and of itself, a fantasy where the awoken sleepwalk. The novel fits my narrative sensibilities which focus both on the plot and the character nuances and has the attributes of magical realism, therefore I’m good at it and enjoy working on it. I hope to leave a footstep in the snow with it somewhere in the distant north, where the plot is happening…for the future storytellers of the same genre (magical fantasy).  Officially this genre does not exist, or rather is not named as such. There is magical realism, but this is a work of magical fantasy.

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Any advice for upcoming authors?

LS: Don’t walk the same track as others. Break patterns and remember that Kafka was extremely insecure. He considered himself a bad author, which he masked with hysterical laughter (a sort of compensation for shame) whenever his friends were talking him into reading his works aloud. Also, he wrote them late at night. This is not the type of advice you should heed if you’re an early bird.

Injury – Justice


“If an injury has to be done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”- Niccolo Machiavelli
Vengeful fate, weave a new web
For the one you hunt them with now is much too small
THEN Chase them onto the Dreadful coasts
The Deal is signed
And the Mission given
Into the hands of the Jib!
Go hard on the Hunchback until the Heat and the Thirst
Of the Villains
Drink my vendetta up.
(The Mind is entranced by fire
(Burning, burning in the wild flames of ruthless might!)
May even the Terror of the heavens itself with its cruel hand not make
The mortals quiver, disgustingly silent in this race
Blood-hued
Just like my hand drenched in anger will harrow these throats
Of theirs
Until they whine a hopeless whine:
„Mercy!“
Hear ye:
A Wound of anguish lies
A foot drenched in blood
And a Heart on fire.

FROM THE DIARY OF THE (insane?) AUTHOR AFTER A REJECTION


 

It will all be over soon. Aaaahh, damn them, the rotational optics of insanity is gaining momentum in my head. I am not a woman. I am a macroscopic particle. A Spinning top. Call me Spinning top. I will do it so suddenly, so feverishly, and yet so calmly, my hand won’t shake. I will mildly lean forward, legs spread to shoulder-width, yes. Calm the body down. Aim carefully. Pull the trigger. Deep breath. Aim, pull, calm… Calm…

freedom

You love me in this dress


You love me in this dress
and you don’t see my full lips nor a shirt wherein my breasts seem safer
neither eyes but a moment before succumbing
you love me in this dress
and you don’t see my bleary-eyed and yellow gaunt face
neither pieces of broken statue or pieces of paper scattered around…
you are not wonder – struck with my scream nor with my attempt to get you to escape

I am taking it off tieing it around my waist
my movements are alternately feminine and rough
I love being a woman because my body moves to the beat of music more easily
but my boyish view that you don’t see slaps the spirits of the past
frozen on the other side…
still immersed in the coloring of the unfinished image

You would do anything for me when I’m in this dress, don’t you?
don’t you see I’m naked, pursued and burned?
don’t you see my old clothes
in the blemished closet loaded with garments as barrel shotguns
a talking picture has turned into a point..
in the background was a poorly dressed wake-up call.

You love me in this dress
perhaps I could remember and arrange any piece for you.
Maybe cabaret.
Maybe to play it in a new dress?

dress

Leila Samarrai: A good writer is one who is not afraid to speak out interviewed for “Afirmator”, the magazine for the arts and social issues, by Tamara Lujak


http://afirmator.org/leila-samarrai-dobar-pisac-je-onaj-koji-se-ne-boji-da-progovori/

The master of of the short story, Leila Samarrai is both published and
award-winning young author. She loves to write, she lives for the
literature, she dreams about having her own manager, like
American writers. Inspired by the Monty Python, by Chaplin, by
everyday situations in our country, she creates sharp, funny,
satirical stories, full of liberating rage and bitterness. Dive into
her world, for a moment…

What is the task of the writer?

The task of the writer is to write well and that’s all. It seems to me
that this is the striking thesis of Joseph Brodsky.

Why do you write?

For pleasure, and because I believe that I have something to say…

Where do you get your ideas?

Is simply, when I hit the table with my fist, a genie from the magic
lamp appears, bowing down to me, saying: “I beg your pardon,
my Magistra Ludi” Then I express my desire which is, immediately,
fulfilled.

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What is a good poetry/art and how would you define a poetic
skill?

Art is a game. Poetry is a game. At the end of the day, either
you know how to play or not…

What is a good writer to you?

A good writer is the one who is not afraid to speak up; the one who
dictates the art of the written word. A writer who only scribbles
in silence collecting praises is nothing but an idle reader. He to
whom the written word is flowing through the wounds in the
world descending to the paper, he does not hesitate to give either
criticism or praise. It is his aspiration.

What is the best literature and the purpose of art?

The survival of the human race.

Where did you get the idea to write Boris K (“Everest media”,
Belgrade, 2013)?

In the age of absurd events in Serbia, which go against common
sense, it was not difficult to come up with the idea to write an
absurd satire which would reflect the reality in the witch’s “old
woman Valentina” mirror . Pythonesque burlesque in conjunction
with Kafkaesque atmosphere, in the spirit of Monty Python and
perhaps Chaplin or SF passenger through space and time, are just
some of the references that build the atmosphere. Why
Kafkaesque? Because Boris K. in spite of his Johnny Bravo
powers and abilities is just plain, small, but not so common man,
milled by the wheel of the kafkaesque torture machine “in the
penal colony” – which grinds and bites, in a sophisticated way, but
it… kills … Johnny Bravo effect, the muscles of superhero are
part of the comedy of the absurd. The hyperbole that I like to use,
sometimes to the extreme, is part of the comedy and the comedy,
so to speak, becomes even more comical.

Can we expect a continuation of The Adventures Of Boris K?

Yes, you can. Ideas ideas everywhere.. (I share Plato’s thought), Boris K. is not only the satire – short story hero, he is an omnipresent avatar representing disruptive, although an imaginative cosmopolitan. He deserves the best assembled fable, the beginning, the plot, my favorite peripetia and spicy denouement with a touch of bitter irony at the expense of society.

What are you currently doing?

Like a sculptor, I am chiseling a novel made up of interwoven narratives, fighting for each sentence. This work does not require precision in terms of the well formed plot. It is itself a sleepwalker fantasy in which the vigilant one walks in the dream. It is surreal, like moonwalking…
The title is “The Sleeping Matilde”. It has something magical in it, for me… It follows my narrative sensibility focused not only to action but on shading of complex characters in novel. It has the characteristics of magical realism and’m good at it and I am endlessly enjoying in my work.

Melpomene

Tips to the younger writers?

Go not by the beaten paths. Break the patterns and remember that Kafka, who was the genius, was very unsure of himself. He thought he did not know to write, which he covered up by his famous hysterical laughter when urged to read aloud his works to his friends… Also, he wrote late into the night. This advice does not apply to you if you’re an early riser 🙂

translated from Serbian into English: Leila Samarrai