Nov 15, 2008
Nam Le has won the £60,000 Dylan Thomas Prize. It recognizes the best young writer in the English-speaking world, with the goal of ensuring that the inspirational nature of Dylan’s writing lives on. I met with him in Toronto at the IFOA. This is part two of a series of interviews conducted with three acclaimed short storywriters: Rebecca Rosenblum, Nam Le, and Anne Enright. In each case we riff off those qualities which Flannery O’Connor thought best constituted a good short story.
Nam is author of The Boat, a collection of ’stories that take us from the slums of Colombia to the streets of Tehran; from New York City to Iowa City; from a fishing village in Australia to a floundering vessel in the South China Sea, in a masterful display of literary virtuosity and feeling.’
We talk, among other things, about never condescending to the reader, the prose having to be smarter than its author: tapping into things seen, but a just beyond their ken; gaps and allowing the reader to put their experiences into them; getting into the consciousness of characters; relinquishing ego; the difficulty of writing short stories — and the greatness of those who can do it well; spring-boarding detail and gearing it for expansion; and affecting paradoxical senses of recognition, wonder and redemption.