The Elegant Variation interviewed Dara Horn, author of The World to Come, last year.
The first question and answer:
1) Time Magazine called your novel - which has drawn favorable comparisons to Nicole Krauss' The History of Love - "a "deeply satisfying literary mystery."Given that one of the interminable debates out there has to do with the eternal conflict between the "genre" and the "literary," what experiences can you share about having successfully melded the two? How much - if at all - did you weigh the question of "literary" versus "mystery"? Or do you think everyone is fussing over nothing?
DH: I think the divide between "literary" and "genre" fiction is rather arbitrary. Crime and Punishment is a thriller, and there are plenty of books that are called "literary" simply because they don't have a conventional plot. But the genres are useful in describing a book, which is how you get people to read it. When I published my first novel, I was living in an apartment on the 31st floor, and I had trouble describing what my book was about in the elevator, even though it was a long ride. At some point I said to myself, "I wish I had just written a book about an art heist." So I wrote my second book about an art heist, and I certainly owe that external structure of the book to "genre" fiction. But I really saw the art heist or mystery plot as a way of bringing the reader along into a particular story, into a world of art and literature that might not be familiar, and into an exploration of other ideas - about who owns a work of art, for instance, or what's authentic and what's fake or forged, or whether art or literature can offer people some kind of redemption, or why we trust people at all.
Read the entire interview.
Read -- The Page 99 Test: Dara Horn's "The World to Come"