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“If you want to include everything that was destroyed only in the first minute of a war, you can never get past that first minute” – Sinan Antoon, about his latest book “The book of collateral damage”, interviewed in FAZ, Germany

 SinanAntoonLena Bopp interviews Sinan Antoon for FAZ [1]

 January 2020

Your last novel “The book of collateral damage” (“Index”) is (…) a kind of archive, a catalog full of things that once existed in Iraq and that are lost

I imagine the terrible concept of collateral damage as a black hole that swallows up everything: houses, people, animals, trees. Everything that life is. The book is also about the possibility of archiving.  I tried to figure out how to write the story of a war through the figure of a crazy book seller, without taking anything out. But if you want to include everything that was destroyed only in the first minute of a war, you can never get past that first minute.

There is a character in the book that could resemble you. An academic who fled Iraq and feels uncomfortable in New York …It is not an autobiographical book, although there may be similarities. My alienation in the United States has to do not only with the American political vis-à-vis Iraq, but also with the whiteness and the way in which American liberals ignore their complicity in the history of violence against African-Americans and Native Americans. All these cursed liberals are always for war, learn nothing and have no critical attitude towards the state. And how they always say “we”. Damn, I always think: If there is one good thing about living in literature, it is that you learn that there is no “we”. In dictatorships, people know that there is a people and a government and that it is not the same

 

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