Nathaniel Rich on the Fantastical

Topic: Nathaniel Rich on the Fantastical

Nathaniel Rich: I don’t really think of it as magical realism, and I think magical realism I associate with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a specific sort of literally movement or genre. I think there are fantastical elements of the book, but the idea- my idea was to- to-- unlike magical realism where you have fantastical things happening and from the first page we have snow falling in the tropics, I wanted it to be a real gradual shift so that it starts off in a pretty realistic setting and- and background, but then it gradually goes into something different and-- I was, you know-- that my models were not really- were not magical realism. In fact I hadn’t really read Marquez before I- I wrote most of it. But- I don’t know- certain films and- and-- I don’t really know, but it’s not something- I didn’t- I never thought about it in that- in that term- in that way, and so I wasn’t aware of doing a certain type of- using a certain type of device. I- I was more interested in telling a story and- and dealing with characters who were, for me, very real even if they ended up in some scenarios that were sort of outside of the realm of real ex- lived experience.What role is- does the fantastical play with the charac-- I think- I think the characters themselves-- I mean, I- I think it’s- it’s kind of a metaphor-- I mean, this is what fiction does in general, is I think you can get at- at a certain level of reality through fiction that you can’t get at through non-fiction or even memoir, and so it didn’t feel like the fantastical elements of it, which don’t really involve the characters themselves but involved the landscape more. And sort of situations they find themselves in, I felt like the- the dramas- the personal dramas were very real, and the relationships between the characters were very real. And, if anything, the reality of that- of the relationships and of the characters’ identities was heightened by the contrast with the more fantastical elements going on outside of them.

 

Recorded On: 3/17/08

It's not magical realism, Rich says. It's closer to Bulgakov's style.

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