Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jonathan Littell

Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones is a brutally graphic novel about the Holocaust narrated by Max Aue, a former Nazi officer.

From Littell's Q & A with the Wall Street Journal:

WSJ: Why pick this topic?

Mr. Littell: It evolved slowly. I wanted to write about the war initially and then the emphasis focused on the genocide. I knew I wanted to do it first person. I didn't have any hesitation. I've been in dark places a good part of my life.

What was the process?

I started on this full time in 2001, but I'd been thinking about it for a dozen years. The research was done very systematically. I drew up a long reading list. I then divided it thematically and read chunk after chunk. Along the way you find out about new books and one topic leads to another. I also fit in trips along the way, including Jewish communities in the Caucasus.

How difficult was it to focus on the death squads in the Ukraine and various concentration camps? When you write, you don't think about the content, you think about the sentences, the grammar, the syntax, the rhythm. It's like a painter. Hieronymus Bosch was able to paint Hell by thinking...[read on]
The Kindly Ones is one of writer/director John Waters' six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue