I once again see the potential and power of literature, and hope to tell new and necessary stories. As activists, we must not lose sight of art. Let’s reach out to artists and publishers, and find ways to connect, cross-pollinate and collaborate. Let’s all tell some new stories.
In the meantime, here are some questions I posed to Aleksandar Hemon. Take another moment…I promise you’ll enjoy his sense of humor. And, if you make it to the end, I just have this to say: Page 150.
JN: How did you discover Lazarus Averbuch, and did you set out on this project with all of the political themes in mind?
AH: A friend of mine gave me the book called An Accidental Anarchist by Walter Roth and Joe Krauss. It was a straight, smart historical recounting of the Lazarus Averbuch affair, including the political fallout–the persecution of anarchists and foreigners, changes in immigration laws etc. I have deep interest in immigration and displacement, for obvious reasons, so the book was very fascinating to me. I am a history buff, because it interests me how people lived in the past and how we got to this point, whatever the point.
And history is always political, both in its form and in its content. On the one hand, what people look for and see in history is necessarily related to their politics. On the other hand, history to some extent always records the human consequences of political decisions and catastrophes, as well as the decisions and catastrophes themselves. Which is to say that I did not need to set out to do a political book. I simply knew that neither the politics of that time (and our time) nor the fallout of human suffering could be kept out of the book.