Hari Kunzru is the author of The Impressionist, Transmission, and the short story collection Noise. He was named one of Granta’s “Twenty Best Fiction Writers Under Forty.” His 2012 novel is Gods Without Men.
From Kunzru's 2012 Q & A with Erin Gilbert at Publishers Weekly:
You came to the U.S. to do research for an entirely different kind of novel.Visit Hari Kunzru's website.
Yeah, I came over to do a fellowship at the Cullman Center in the New York Public Library in 2008. I was going to use their Asian collection and write about 16th-century India. That completely fell apart. I’d underestimated what it would mean to be in America, surrounded by Americans, having to deal with and understand America in a way that I hadn’t before. It seemed the only sensible thing I could write about was America. Just when this project was crumbling and I was freaking out, some friends of mine in L.A. said, “Why don’t you come out and do a road trip?” That’s what led to the book, this week and a half I spent driving around near Joshua Tree.
Can you talk about the title? Many of your characters seem to be men without gods.
Well, the title has two origins, really. The first is the ancient Greek idea that without worshippers gods die out; a god needs believers and faith in order to function. But the title’s primary meaning comes from this Balzac story, “Passion in the Desert,” where an old soldier in the Napoleonic War in Egypt is asked, “What is the desert?” and he says, “It’s God without man.” That was very much my feeling when I was in the Mojave. It’s got this metaphysical quality, a vast emptiness, and a feeling... it’s almost like, behind a very bright light there’s something that you...[read on]