前段时间听广播时听到了作者Olga做客BBC 3 一档节目的访谈，正好是关于本书的，于是就把它听写了下来，给想了解本书创作背景及作者想法的朋友们看看。
本书从一开头就告诉我们，女主人公Janina年迈，体弱多病，在我接触过的文学作品中，以年老的女性为主角的作品并不多，书中另一大类主角则是动物们，狐狸，鹿，野兔...它们和女主人公一样，都是生活中被普通人忽视的角色，老妇人的所作所为都被视为疯癫的，不可理喻的，更何况是真正voiceless的动物。沉默的、总被忽略和压迫的人们或是动物的反抗，也是作者想要表达的一点。本书的德语版书名是Der Gesang der Fledermause，英文翻译过来是The Song of Bats，蝙蝠之歌，众所周知，蝙蝠也是沉默无声的动物，就像女主角一样，因为年龄和社会地位，她的声音总是无法被聆听。作者在访谈中也提到波兰的社会和政治现实，与几十年前相比，现在的波兰对不持有主流观点的人们更加宽容了，她也希望能用自己的作品改变更多人的态度。
Q: It has a mystery start, but I wonder what came up first? You desire to write a detective novel, or desire to give life to the fantastically eccentric and passionate female character?
A: I was always involved with the animal rights movement, that was the first time. And from the beginning, I knew it would be the subject of this novel, and I was really aware that there’s a lack of older women as the main character in our Polish literature and the worldwide literature. And for me, as a woman in middle-age, let’s say, sometimes it’s very visible that you have to identify with the male characters, and that’s the second point, and let’s do a detective story.
Q: She’s eccentric, and she lives in a remote hamlet out in the countryside in Poland, she follows astrology very carefully. She somewhat takes a lot of positions that most people don’t consider mainstream. But of course, rather like William Blake from whom you take in the title, she doesn’t think of herself eccentric, she thinks of herself as mainstream and others eccentric.
A: I tried to build a character which in a way pure, innocent. This is a book about anger, so she’s in a very painful position because the word the way she’s living is not moral anymore…
Q: There’s a quote from Blake at the beginning of your first chapter, it says:” The tiger….” That seems to sum up the mentality she’s bringing to the story.
A: Yeah, this is a book about anger, and what we can do with anger. Anger is always the result of frustration when you feel hopeless and weak. What the honest citizenship of a contemporary country can do in the situation when everything and law we live under is not moral anymore.
Q: And she’s frustrated by that. What does she have to be angry about?
A: The German title of this book is The Song of The Bats.
Q: Bats, the flying animals.
A: Yeah, because they don’t have a voice honestly, we cannot hear them, (very high pitched voice), yeah, but in the way for us, they don’t have a voice, we would say. And Duszejko is kind of, such a representation of voiceless people, who were marginalised because of ages, poverty and live in the province somewhere. Of course, the weakest in this chain is animal.
Q: But that voicelessness has changed over time. I’m wondering what it means to be voicelessness in Poland today because I guess for a generation of us westerners who live through the cold war, 30 or 50 years ago in your childhood, we thought of the voicelessness in Poland as being Catholics or trade unionists or people like solidarity or others who were repressed by the government, that kind of people who would turn up in films by Andrzej Wajda or Krzysztof Zanussi. That’s not the Poland of today, so how’s voicelessness changed in contemporary Poland?
A: Yeah, you know the best platform for voiceless people is politics of course. You just go to politics and try to act, not just stand by. But I think we’re now living in a different situation, the most voiceless creature on the earth today is animal. And I’m really convinced that our awareness of the environment, nature and us living outside of nature and without any touch to nature, and living in a dirty, bad environment. So those are very political and big problems, and of course, those problems are very close connected with those problems we used to treat as political, I mean, poverty, lack of democracy, lack of speech freedom…
Q: In a sense, perhaps the people who are more voiceless have changed in Polish politics because all the Catholicism are always part of Poland even under communism. Now, of course, if complete free to operate, and it’s fair to say that one of the most unpleasant characters in the novel is a priest. Why do you feel there’s a need to produce this very unsympathetic character of a priest?
A: This character was built on big research I took every single his sentence from the internet.
Q: Things the real priest has said? (yes) And when he’s talking about the hunting, particularly hunting animals. How much do you think it’s great to have hunted in nature?
A: Because the Catholic Church is very important in Poland, as you said. It’s also supporting very strongly this patriarchal in a way allochronic philosophy of human being. So the word of nature is observant of the culture of the church and the civilisation of human being. And there’s also very patriarchal in the terms that women are rather voiceless, and this entire system supports much the political situation in Poland. And I have to say that it’s also a prove the literature, the art can really change our mind. There’s a case of the very famous movie which is now screening in Poland; the title is The Clergy, and this is a movie about the hypocritical priest, the shocking and grimming moment is Poland, and we are just before an election, so I think such a movie can really change the result of the election. So it always makes me strong when I know that art can really change something.
Q: And what do you say about the politics in Poland today, are you specifically talking about the current law & justice government or do you mean the political system more broadly?
A: No, I mean the law & justice party and those ideas that are coming back to nationalism that close the door, keep a distance from the EU, those ideas, in my opinion, are very dangerous.
Q: Do you think Poland should have any kind of nationalist identity because it’s a country has changed its geography over time, disappeared in 18 century, reappeared in 1918, disappeared in 1940, came back in 1945. It’s understandable that people with that history should have some sort of hunger for nationhood, isn’t it?
A: Yes, Polish culture is strong because we use our culture as a very strong quality of our identity, but it doesn’t mean that nationalism in 19-century addition should be a contemporary way of thinking. I do believe in such identity which has so many levels so that you can be Polish, and you can be European at the same time, it’s nothing.
Q: Someone I know who is populist said to me the problem of Poland today is there’s what he calls as Polska A, and Polska B. A Polander is looking for a cosmopolitan Poland in the world and wonder as you said there’s more about the folk culture, and Poland A and Poland B no longer trust each other. You agree with that assessment. Is there a way to cross that boundary for Poland?
A: In my opinion, this is the result of the law & justice government.
Q: But surely political parties reflects something in the society, people wouldn’t vote for them.
A: No, I think nowadays, parties can create reality, they have a media. They use media in a very clever, sinic way. And I don’t know what we can do to destroy the gap between us and I do believe that democracy has the self-efficient system inside this mechanism. And we have to wait for an election.
Q: Final question, your protagonist Ms Duszejko adores William Blake, is that because you do too?
A: This piece of land where I used to live in sydizya, there were 3-4 translators of William Blake, so I don’t know why those three guys found themselves this place. Two of them I knew personally, and I thought if Black could come to Poland, he for sure would find something interesting just in my place, so we are very Blakey, eccentric, foggy and blakey.