Next week, Literaturlenz: Reading with Authors from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria is coming to Chicago. This annual event takes place at the Goethe-Institut and features exclusive readings by an incredible array of international authors. I had the chance to interview one of the visiting authors, Maja Haderlap, about her tenure as the Head of Dramaturgy at the Municipal Theater in Klagenfurt, her love of languages and what inspired her to write her painstakingly beautiful debut novel, Angel of Oblivion. Interview after the jump.
Your debut novel, Angel of Oblivion, is a painstaking and emotional account of the Slovenian-speaking minority in Austria during and after World War II. This story is unique in that many seem to overlook it, but your novel shines a profound new light on this subject. What inspired you to pen this novel and why?
I grew up with many of the stories mentioned in the novel, and most of my life, I have been engaged with the forgotten story of the Slovene minority of Carinthia. At some point, I had to write it. I felt able to undertake this topic.
To date, what has been your favorite essay and poem you’ve published and why? Where can our readers find said work?
My Slovenian poems have all been translated into English. At the moment, the book is out of stock, but it may be available in some American libraries (Gedichte Pesmi Poems. Drava: Klagenfurt 1998). The English translation of my novel Engel des Vergessens/Angel of Oblivion is currently being prepared.
The text that is most important to me is the text that I am working on at the moment. Currently, my new poems, which will be published by Wallstein Publishing in the Fall of 2014.
What was your favorite aspect of being the Head of Dramaturgy at the Municipal Theatre of Klagenfurt? Why?
We wanted to give interesting, exciting theater to the region of Kärnten, which we did successfully. As the Head of Dramaturgy, I was able to develop and have a say on many things. I really enjoyed it.
What is your favorite language and why? What is your favorite word in that particular language?
I don’t have a favorite language, I am fascinated with all languages. Therefore I don’t have a favorite word, particularly. Sometimes I fall in love with the sound of a single word, even if I don’t understand it.
You studied German and theater studies at the University of Vienna, how has this influenced the rest of your career?
My studies in Vienna were indeed something, that I could build my career on. Both fields of studies have proven to be very beneficial for my work.
Who is your favorite playwright and why?
My favorite playwright is Anton Tschechow. I am always fascinated by his insight into human nature and his literary and theatrical abilities.
What has been your oddest experience with the translation of your work from one language to another? Why?
Translation is a form of art. It has touched me in an odd way and fascinated me at the same time. I realize that some things can get lost in translation, but new things can also emerge. When you translate, you witness a change, a transformation to new cultural coherences.
A little more about Maja Haderlap…
Born in Eisenkappel/Zelezna Kapla (Austria), Maja Haderlap studied Theatre and German Literatur at the University of Vienna. From 1992 to 2007 she was Head of Dramaturgy at the Municipal Theatre of Klagenfurt and holds annual classes at the Institute for Applied Cultural Sciences at the Alpen Adria University in Klagenfurt. Since 2008 she has lived and worked as a freelance author in Klagenfurt. She has published several volumes of poetry and essays in Slovenian and German, and translations from Slovenian. She won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for an excerpt from her first novel, The Angel of Oblivion. She has received many other awards including the Bruno Kreisky Prize, the Rauriser Literature Prize, and the Vincenz Rizzi Prize.
Literaturlenz: Reading with Authors from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria
Olga Grjasnowa, Richard Weihe, and Maja HaderlapReading
Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.
Goethe-Institut Chicago, 150 N Michigan Ave., Suite 200
In German and English, discussion moderated by Susan Harris
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Filed under: Interviews