Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hanna Pylvainen

Cafe Americain staff member K. Tyler Christensen interviewed Hanna Pylvainen about her novel, We Sinners.

Part of the Q & A:

CA: You said that when you were writing the novel that you didn’t think you were writing anything that anyone would ever read. Was that something you told yourself to get the writing done, or did you really believe that?

HP: During my time at Michigan, I didn’t submit a single story anywhere. I had never published anything before, and didn’t particularly see why that would change. I never finished a revision of a story and wondered what magazine or journal might want it –– I was writing the book I had wanted to read. Everything else, as they say, was gravy.

CA: I grew up in a pretty large family, there were 7 of us, and we were often crammed into small places, and living on top of one another. You write about the chaos of growing up in a large family very well, for example, in “Pox” there’s a lot of unrest; you have this large family living in this tiny apartment, and out of their van (an oversized vehicle until you put a set of parents and 9 kids inside). Of all things, the family gets the chickenpox. As the first story in the novel, what is being foreshadowed by a story about an entire family getting the chickenpox?

HP: There are many contagious elements to the family life of the Rovaniemis, but specifically, I would point to the moment at the end of the chapter “Pox” when the daughter, Brita, overhears her parents forgiving each other in the ritual blessing of forgiveness. The real “pox” is the guilt and the forgiveness –– that is the epidemic no character can avoid, or entirely be free of, whether they stay or go.

CA: I love that in each of the stories we get to see...[read on]
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Writers Read: Hanna Pylväinen.

--Marshal Zeringue