Fascinating [French] interview with Nathaniel Rich, ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW, in English here: http://northwardho.blogspot.tw/2015/10/nathaniel-richs-cli-fi-novel-from-2013.html
UPDATE is that Nat has completed his next novel, but the pub date and title remain a closely held secret at FSG his publisher. It is more ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW cli-fi storytelling, or has Nat gone back to literary fiction of another kind? Stay tuned to this blog.
QUESTION: What was the genesis of this novel ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW? What was his point of departure and how long did it take to write it from start to finish.
NAT: Five years.
The original idea came during a conversation with a friend of at Yale - who lives in Paris now. Then he was working for a law firm on Wall Street. He explained to me that the September 11 has made it impossible for the companies to get insurance against disasters. They had begun to resort to various kinds of tricks legal cynical in order to compensate for future disasters. This idea has become the seed for "Future World", the society in the novel.
I wrote the first draft in one year and reworked the text for four years. I have always been very concerned that a hurricane, such as the one that I describe in my novel, struck New York. And then it happened a few months before the publication of my book.
QUESTION: In your novel, the 9/11 event does not appear at all, at least it is not mentioned. Is this a deliberate choice on your part? Is there a willingness to ignore? Or did you want to create a universe without this event?
There are a few references but without being appointed. It was voluntary. The 11 September is a strong symbol for the readers, particularly for American readers, whereas I just wanted to provide an entertainment. I am concerned about, for example, to mitigate the tone and to make any attempt at humor impossible. As I said, the tragedy haunts the history. It also defines that the circumstances of the story occur.
The opening scene, which is happening at the college during the earthquake in Seattle, is a record precise enough of my own experience of 11 September 2001. I am sitting in a conference room of Russian literature a few minutes after that the towers have collapsed. Our teacher did not think that the attack was worth the trouble to discuss and to the place, he showed us some slides on the garden of Pushkin.
QUESTION: Your novel is a mixture of genres, Nature Writing, Post-Apo , Cli-fi, satirical novel . Did you voluntarily had the want to mix the genres, or is this the novel that has imposed this constraint?
I tried very hard to avoid trap me in a kind. When we talk of kind, we are really talking about a series of snapshots, and nothing is more toxic to the literature as snapshots. I have tried to frustrate the expectations of the kind the or i have seen arise. In particular, I wanted to avoid the vicissitudes that you can see in many blockbusters post-apocalyptic such as "Escape from New York". That is why there are not huge scenes of fracas of crowd, explosions, of politicians giving speeches filled with emotions etc. . We remain focused on Mitchell and his point of view, which is fairly limited. Most of the time, it is literally ghost-lit warder in the darkness. It is a vision to small scale of a disaster on a large scale, which is how, after all, we all have a tendency to experience a disaster: as individual human beings with our own anxieties, our own anxieties.
QUESTION: You started your wrtting career as an author of nonfiction and longfrm journalsim , so what prompted you to try your hand at literary fiction?
I know why you think it, but this perception is due to the publication dates and the time it took for me to write a novel. I began by writing a novel but it was published well after my trial. I started my first novel, "The mayor's tongue", when I was 22 years old. It took me six years to complete and it was published in 2008 (it is not yet published in France). During this time, I began to publish the tests. "Paris on the future" took me five years and has been published in the United States in 2013. My third novel is almost finished, but will not be published before a certain time.
I think roundtrips between fiction and test is a way to vent of the two forms. The fiction also allows me to escape from a little of our world. I think that if i had to write novels full time i would go nuts. And my novels would suffer.
QUESTION: In your novel ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW a Jeiwsh risk analyst, a mathematician, is found to be worshipped in the novel as a prophet, is it the reflection of a contemporary American society in lacking any real heros or an icon?
NAT: The Americans live in a state of national paranoia. Our fears influence (and degrade) our policy, culture and our economy. I wanted to write on this that this paranoia we made. What are we doing to our brain to be exposed daily to the many threats that we face in the press or on media not only social, environmental threats, but also of the new terrorism, war, economic collapse, epidemics, armed violence, what you want. What can serve as the fear? Who is it? But more importantly, what ca we made and the impact on our private lives.
QUESTION: We are witnessing, from our Europe window on the USA the emergence of American authors of a high literary quality such as Adam Novy, Ben Marcus and you. How can one explain the emergence of this wave of USA authors?
NAT: I do not know the answer. I suspect that the European interest for these novels reflects European tastes, but it is difficult to generalize for a continent. I understand that in France, at least, there is a greater appetite for novels that are discussing on of big ideas. In the U.S. , the market seems oriented toward novels that divert attention from the reality or flatter our time.
QUESTION: So.....who are the authors who you have influenced you?
Martin Amis, Don DeLillo, Mikhail Bulgakov, Jane Bowles, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, Flann O'Brien, John McPhee
FRENCH TEXT HERE