Here is a link to a recent interview that I gave to Richard Marshall (right) of 3:am Magazine and which was just published. We met up in a pub on the Thames on a sunny day in April to talk about Dicky Star and the garden rule, my specially commissioned novella published to accompany a series of new works by the artists Jane and Louise Wilson. But first we spoke about the Balkans, about the short story anthology Croatian Nights that I co-edited with Borivoj Radaković and Matt Thorne, my non-fiction work Another Fool in the Balkans, and a particular strand among my short stories published since 2005:
…perhaps a dozen, which again are not collected but were published in small editions here and there, and which began with my own short story for Croatian Nights – ‘Gobbledegook’ – which applied the cut up technique to transcripts of the Milošević trial. I was reading these transcripts, and found myself drawn to the linguistic and performative texture of the proceedings as well as what was being discussed, the bigger story. Glitches in translation and corrections to pagination. Points in the proceedings where the defendant was dissembling, wasting time or pretending the equipment was broken. Complaining about his headphones. Places where the proceedings were breaking down.
3:AM: Why were you reading this stuff?
TW: Because it is important. Here is a body of writing that is being produced by the ICTY, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which is concerned with understanding the creation of criminal fascist states in contemporary Europe and the commission of war crimes and genocide. But this body of work – the evidence and the proceedings – is almost unimaginably vast. There are literally hundreds of thousands of pages of transcripts of just the Milošević trial alone, and you can multiply that by all the other trials that are happening and see that there exists this vast literature that is published but largely unread by anyone outside of the proceedings, unless scholars or academics. It’s a huge archive but largely ignored. Yet to me it’s one of the most significant bodies of writing that has been produced in the last decade and it seems imperative to engage with this, to open it up, to read it and draw attention to it. However, because I’m a writer of course I engage with it through fiction…
In the interview we traced the networks that produced those books, the short stories and various related activities back to the early 1990s. Publication pre-history for me, in the sense that my fiction was first published in 1995. We briefly discussed my work with the artist Gordana Stanišić, whose untitled, month-long walking piece I commissioned for The Showroom gallery and which took place during May 1994. I have written more extensively about Stanišić’s work in Another Fool in the Balkans, but interestingly I see that copies of the small publication produced to accompany Stanišić’s live art work — which I’d thought long sold-out — are still available to buy from The Showroom.
Here are a couple of photographs of that work taken by Hugo Glendinning.