Alison Lurie, Kiran Desai, Eduardo Galeano, Sergej Dovlatov

De Amerikaanse schrijfster en literatuurwetenschapster Alison Lurie werd geboren op 3 september 1926 in Chicago, Illinois. Zie ook mijn blog van 3 september 2007.



At three A.M. on a windy late-November night, Jenny Walker woke in her historic house in an historic New England town, and sensed from the slope of the mattress and the chill of the flowered percale sheets that Wilkie Walker, the world-famous writer and naturalist, was not in bed beside her.
Often now Jenny woke to this absence. The first time, after lying half awake for twenty minutes, she tiptoed downstairs and found her husband sitting in the kitchen with a mug of tea. Wilkie smiled briefly and replied to her questions that of course he was all right, that everything was all right. “Go back to bed, darling,” he told her, and Jenny followed his instructions, just as she had done for a quarter century.
After that night she didn’t go to look for him, but now and then she would mention his absence the next morning. Wilkie would say that he’d had a little indigestion and needed a glass of soda water, or wanted to write down an idea. There was no reason to be concerned about him, his tone implied. Indeed her concern was unwelcome, possibly even irritating.
But since the day they met, Jenny had been more concerned about Wilkie Walker than anyone or anything in the world. He had come into the University Housing Office at UCLA where she was working after graduation while she waited to see what would happen next in her life. It was a misty, hot summer morning when Wilkie appeared: the most interesting-looking older man Jenny had ever seen, with his broad height, his full explorer’s mustache; his shock of blond-brown hair, steel-blue eyes, and sudden dazzling smile. Dazzled, she heard him ask about sabbatical sublets for the fall. He wanted somewhere quiet with a garden–he liked to work out of doors if he could, he explained–but he also hoped to be within a half-hour’s walk of the university. Which no doubt wasn’t possible, he added with another radiant smile.
But Jenny was able to assure him that she knew just the place. And two days later, while she was still dreaming of Wilkie’s visit and wondering if she could get leave to audit his lectures, he reappeared to thank her and ask her to have lunch with him.”



Alison Lurie (Chigaco, 3 september 1926)


De Indische schrijfster Kiran Desai werd geboren op 3 september 1971 in New Dehli. Zij woont echter tegenwoordig permanent in de VS. Toen zij 14 jaar was vertrok haar familie uit India naar Engeland, en een jaar later naar de VS, waar zij in Massachusettes haar opleiding voltooide. In 1998 publiceerde zij haar eerste boek Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, zeer geprezen door o.a. Salman Rushdie. Haar tweede roman The Inheritance of Loss leverde haar in 2006 de Booker Prize op.


Uit: Erbin des verlorenen Landes (Vertaald door Robin Detje)


„Lichtschriften bestürmen den Schatten, verschwenderischer als Meteore. Die hohe unkennbare Stadt überwuchert das Feld. Sicher meines Lebens und meines Todes betrachte ich die Ehrgeizigen und verstünde sie gern. Gierig ist ihr Tag wie das Lasso in Lüften. Burgfriede des Zorns im Eisen ist ihre Nacht, jäh, kampfbereit. Sie sprechen von Menschlichkeit. Meine Menschlichkeit ist im Gefühl, daß wir Stimmen des gleichen Elends sind. Sie sprechen von Vaterland. Mein Vaterland ist ein Gitarrenakkord, einige Porträts und ein alter Degen, das offenbare Gebet der Weide in den Abenddämmerungen. Die Zeit verlebt mich. Lautloser als mein Schatten durchquere ich die Herde ihrer erhabenen Gier. Sie sind unabdingbar, einzig, sie verdienen den Morgen. Mein Name ist jemand und jeglicher. Ich schreite langsam wie einer, der aus solcher Ferne kommt, daß sein Ziel zu erreichen er nicht erwartet.

Der ganze Tag hatte in den Farben der Abenddämmerung geleuchtet, nun zog der Nebel wie ein Meerestier über die weiten Hänge der Berge, von ozeanischen Schatten und Abgründen beherrscht. Kurz stieß die aus Eis gehauene Spitze des fernen Kangchenjunga durch den dampfenden Dunst und die Winde um seinen Gipfel bliesen ein Schneewölkchen in den Himmel.

Sai saß auf der Veranda und las einen Artikel über Riesenkraken in einem alten Nati
onal-Geographic-Heft. Dann und wann sah sie auf, und das verzauberte Leuchten des Kangchenjunga ließ sie frösteln. Der Richter saß am anderen Ende vor seinem Schachbrett und spielte gegen sich selbst. Unter seinem Stuhl, wo sie sich sicher fühlte, hatte Mutt, die Hündin, sich breit gemacht und schnarchte leise. Von einem Kabel über ihnen baumelte eine einzelne, kahle Glühbirne herab. Es war kühl, aber im Haus war es noch kälter. Die Steinmauern, die Dunkelheit und Kälte einschlossen, waren fast einen Meter dick.“



Kiran Desai (New Dehli, 3 september 1971)


De Uruguayaanse schrijver, essayist en journalist Eduardo Hughes Galeano werd geboren op 3 september 1940 in Montevideo. Op twintigjarige leeftijd werd hij al hoofdredacteur van MARCHA, een tijdschrift voor cultuur en politiek in Montevideo. Later werkte hij nog voor verschillende links gerichte tijdschriften. In 1976 ging hij in ballingschap naar Spanje, waar hij bleef tot het einde van de militaire dictatuur in Uruguay in 1985. In 1971 verscheen zijn belangrijkste werk Las venas abiertas de América Latina, waarin hij zich bezig houdt met de geschiedenis van Latijns Amerika.


· 1 ·
“Traitor,” I said. I showed him the clipping from a Cuban paper. There he was, dressed as a pitcher, playing baseball. I remember that he laughed, we laughed. I don’t know whether or not he answered me. The conversation jumped, like a ping-pong ball, from one subject to the next.

“I don’t want every Cuban to wish he were a Rockefeller,” he said.

Socialism had meaning to the extent that it purified people, moved them beyond egoism, saved them from competition and greed.

He told me that when he was president of the central bank he had signed the bills with the word “Che” to poke fun, and he told me that money, that shit-awful fetish, should be ugly.

Che Guevara gave himself away, like everyone does, through his eyes. I remember that clean, morning-fresh look: the look of people who believe.

· 2 ·
Chatting with him, you couldn’t forget that this man had come to Cuba after a long pilgrimage throughout Latin America. He had been in the whirlwind of the Bolivian revolution and in the death throes of the Guatemalan revolution—and not as a tourist. He had loaded bananas in Central America and taken snapshots in Mexican plazas to earn his living, and he had risked his life by throwing himself into the “Granma” adventure.

He was not a man to sit behind a desk. That feline tension so noticeable when I interviewed him in mid-1964 had to explode sooner or later.

His was the unusual case of someone who abandons a revolution which he and a handful of crazy people had already made, to throw himself into beginning another one. He lived not for triumph, but for struggle—the ever necessary struggle for human dignity.

· 3 ·
Three years later, my eyes were glued to the front page of the papers. The agency photos showed his motionless body from all angles. General Barrientos’ dictatorship displayed its great trophy to the world.

For a long time I looked at his smile—ironic and tender at the same time—and bits of that 1964 dialogue came to my mind. Definitions of the world (“Some people possess the truth, but the matter of life is possessed by others”), of revolution (“Cuba will never be a showcase of socialism, but rather a living example”), and of himself (“I have been mistaken often, but I believe…”).



Eduardo Galeano (Montevideo, 3 september 1940)



De Russische schrijver Sergej Dovlatov werd geboren op 3 september 1941 in Ufa, in het zuiden van Rusland. Zie ook mijn blog van 3 september 2007.


Uit: The Suitcase


So this bitch at OVIR says to me, “Everyone who leaves is allowed three suitcases. That’s the quota. A special regulation of the ministry.”

No point in arguing. But of course I argued. “Only three suitcases? What am I supposed to do with all my things?”

“Like What?”

“Like my collection of race cars.”

“Sell them,” the clerk said, obviously not getting it.

Then, knitting her brows slightly, she added, “If you’re dissatisfied with something, write a complaint.”

“I’m satisfied,” I said.

After prison, everything satisfied me.

“Well, then, don’t make trouble…”

A week later I was packing. As it turned out, I needed just a single suitcase.

I almost wept with selfpity. After all, I was 36 years old. Had worked eighteen of them. I earned money, bought things with it. I owned a certain amount, it seemed to me. And still I only need one suitcase—and of rather modest dimensions at that. Was I impoverished, then? How had that happened?

Books? Well, basically, I had banned books, which were not allowed through customs anyway. I had to give them out to my friends, along with my so-called archives.

Manuscripts? I had clandestinely sent them to the West a long time before.

Furniture? I had brought my desk to the secondhand store. The chairs were taken by the artist Chegin, who had been making do with crates. The rest I threw out.

And so I left the Soviet Union with one suitcase. It was plywood, covered with fabric, and had chrome reinforcements at the corners. The lock didn’t work; I had to wind clothesline around it.

Once I had taken it to Pioneer camp. It said in ink on the lid: “Junior group. Seryozha Dovlatov.” Next to it someone had amiably scratched: “Shithead.”



Sergej Dovlatov (3 september 1941 – 24 augustus 1990)