Elizabeth Strout, Novelist: “I don’t see how we in the United States can find a way to get back together as a country”

Elizabeth Strout He knows how to go down to the most intimate level of the characters’ moods without epic and capture the essence of their feelings. Later, he turns his anxiety and difficulties into an epic in his own right. And with that all is said.

But it’s worth knowing more. It is comforting to know that he does his business this way ironing woman, by Picassowho presses the iron with both hands so that each crease is smoothed out.

He earned it in spades Oh, William, He was a finalist for the Booker Prize, and he does it again with Lucy and the sea New installment published in Alfaguara de la The series, which began in 2016 with I llamo Lucy Barton. A writer of belated production and success, her work has accelerated in recent years as more readers and accolades have been added as she delves deeper into the human spirit. One of them was Pulitzer’s Kittredge olives. Born in Portland (Maine, USA) 67 years ago, Strout responds to EL PAÍS by video.

In this new novel, Lucy Barton is placed in the zone of bewilderment caused by the pandemic, the difficulty of making decisions in the face of an event we have not experienced before, and the range of sensations with which we can identify ourselves: loneliness, doubt, and the fragility of family ties and friendship. it’s not Lucy and the sea A novel about an epidemic—still anathema to many readers—but about the emotions it stirred up. Especially in the state of division that the United States was going through.

ask. Trumpism in your book as it goes through an epidemic and coexistence in the United States, how do you see coexistence in your country now? Is it harder than before?

Answer. It just got more difficult. There are divided families who choose not to talk about it or even see each other. There are fractured friendships that choose not to talk about the situation or even leave that friendship. And this is not getting better.

s. Do you think it will get worse? are you pessimistic

R was found. I’m afraid it will get worse. My husband thinks we’ll get over it, but I’m more passive. I don’t see how we can get past it, how we find a way to get back together as a country.

His account strays from mentioning it Donald TrumpHe didn’t want to give him such a personal role in the book, but it captures the presence of a divisive president, of a community shattered by his inconsistencies and distraught by the attack on the Capitol that took place in January 2021. “I wanted to record what was happening in my country without a political point of view, without giving the leaders names, in any way. I was trying to record Lucy Barton’s version of the pandemic to the extent that it could be global.”

The protagonist takes refuge during an epidemic with her ex-husband William, whom we know well from the previous novel, in a house on the coast of Maine. There they find the rejection of some neighbors who hate New Yorkers so much they have to change car license plates to hide where they come from. It is the ancient confrontation between the city and the province. Many people in Maine do not know New York and think of it as a foreign country, and look upon it with fear.” I personally felt very homesick for New York. the bread Or coffee every morning… those relationships you make because you meet these people every day. I missed it all because New York means diversity of people, colors and profiles walking down the street all the time which I just love.”

s. Is there any good left of the pandemic?

R was found. I think people have understood the value of a good friendship more than before. We have learned to value so much more than the human connection we have taken for granted.

Strout asserts that Lucy Barton is a literary construct that does not contain any autobiography, but the truth is that both shared settings (Maine, New York) and occupation. “Since I started, I’ve realized that people are going to think I’m me, but it’s not. It’s a literary construct. And it’s okay, let them think what they want, but it’s not me. I just use her eyes and her voice to tell a story.”

s. How do you live with her and with all these characters that you bring from other novels?

R was found. When I write I try to stay within the personality of the character. I spend so much time with each one and focus so much on them that they become very real to me. And when I’m done, they don’t disappear, they just continue to pop into my mind. When I realize this, I think: “Oh! Such a character could live there, in this house, and she could be Lucy Burton’s friend. It all takes shape in an organic way for me and that’s why these people keep popping into my mind for so long.”

The Ironing Woman by Picasso.Scientific photo album

Sue’s agent, Molly Friedrich shown in New York times Strout write operation and uses palette Ironing womanin which the protagonist presses the iron with both hands to eliminate all wrinkles: “It’s a sure way to smooth and fold sentences that seem simple, but what are they focused,” she says.

s. Is this the way you write? As if he is straightening phrases by pressing with both hands?

R was found. I’ve been working on a viewer basis for many years, as my daughter was young and could only set aside two hours a day. Those scenes seemed to me like something immediate and realizable in that moment and all together, little by little, they were making up the book. And maybe that’s why my agent refers to that woman as the ironer, because I’m always checking them so they fit together.

Strout published his first novel at the age of 42, it took a long time for a second, and now he does it practically every year as the overall success increases and he moves on to movies or series. She explains: “I feel like I’ve been training for a marathon. My daughter is running marathons, I’ve watched her train and I see I’ve also been training long and hard. I feel like I’ve finally figured out enough about writing to make it faster. Now I’m running that marathon.”

s. Why do I write?

R was found. Writing was my first contact with the world. My mother gave me a notebook when I was four years old and said, “Write down what you did today.” And I did it. I learned to form sentences and it was my first understanding of what was happening throughout the day, by writing it down on paper. I’ve done that ever since.

s. And his style? How do you translate it?

R was found. My style is different in Lucy’s books, more succinct thanks to her voice whispering to you, than others, when the narrator breathes longer, pulls back and deals with everything. But I want to think what I’m doing is to speak.

In his book there is a phrase from Lucy that Strout recognizes as valid for her. It is when she describes a police officer who has to fine someone in an epidemic situation and the protagonist explains that trying to understand a police officer is what made her a writer.

s. Is this your writing engine? understand others?

R was found. If that’s me. Lucy is generally not me, but she is. Since I was little, nothing has intrigued me more than the people around me. Understanding them is complex and interesting, since we can only know a small part of this person in a natural way. I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to be someone else.

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