maandag 14 juni 2010

An exclusive interview with Petina Gappah

Author's picture from
Yesterday I reviewed An Elegy for Easterly, the award winning short story collection by Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah. Ms Gappah is an interesting new voice to look out for. She is also remarkably versatile: apart from being a writer she is a lawyer who works in Geneva for in an international organisation that provides legal aid on international trade law to developing countries. And guess what: she quite likes the Dutch, even supports our team in the current World Championship and is going to spend part of the summer of 2011 in Amsterdam. She graciously consented to do an interview by e-mail, which you can read below.

Which of the stories is your favourite and why? 
Most definitely The Mupandawana Dancing Champion because it makes everyone who reads it laugh. I wrote in the voice of someone completely different from me, so it is one that demanded the most of my imagination. I also like the Negotiated Settlement, I think it is a technically good story ... inhabiting two view points to tell the same story.  I hope to do more of that in other work.

Do you see a difference between the stories you wrote first and the ones you worked on later?
Not really, I wrote these stories in the same period more or lesss. I am now writing new stories which are more "self-aware". In those early stories, I just wrote, but now I think a lot more about structure and so on.

The 'male' voices in the stories featuring a male narrator sound remarkably convincing; did that come of its own accord or did you have to work on it?
I had to work on it, but I also had a good friend who read all my stories and commented on them.

Which Zimbabwean author would you recommend to a European audience?
Several: Yvonne Vera, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Chenjerai Hove, Brian Chikwava and Shimmer Chinodya.

What would you rate as the most beautiful place in Zimbabwe?
The Eastern Highlands.

How determined do you have to be as a Zimbabwean woman to have a successful law carreer?
There are a number of Zimbabwean women with successful law careers in and out of Zim ... I imagine they are as determined as anyone else seeking successs in a high profile career.

What are you reading at the moment?
A lot of Barbara Vine because I am working on a Barbara Vinish novel.

Thank you very much, Ms Gappah, for taking the time to answer these questions. I am looking forward to your next book.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Leuk, dat interview. Zelf om gevraagd en meteen toegestaan? Leuk mens. Ik had op haar blog al gezien dat ze ons land een warm hart toedraagt en aan de commentaren te zien is ze niet de enige. Misschien even doorsturen naar Geert W.? We willen het graag zo houden toch?



  2. Inderdaad, zelf om gevraagd en meteen toegestaan. Ik dacht, laat ik ook eens brutaal zijn en prompt de volgende dag een hele leuke reactie.
    Doorzenden naar Geert W? Helaas, de kampioen van de onderbuikgevoelens en het kiezersbedrog is niet voor rede vatbaar, anders zou ik dat graag doen.