Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted. And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic, romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile’s life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement. The achievements of exile are permanently undermined by the loss of something left behind for ever.
—Edward Said in his essay, ‘Reflections on Exile’
I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart, I am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.
—Jorge Luis Borges (via thetinhouse)
Fiction is more dangerous than nonfiction because it can seduce better. I think we all know this, know that deeper truths can be approached in fiction than in fact. There are risks for the reader, because after reading certain books you find you have changed irreversibly. There are risks for writers: in China, now, and Ethiopia and other countries right now, writers face real persecution. Fiction is risky for writers also in that the process of making certain books, of shaping certain narratives, leaves scars and marks on your inner life.
If there was no risk, it wouldn’t be art. It wouldn’t be worth making. There is risk even in a fairy tale. Fiction is closest to pure narrative, and pure narrative is simply the logic we try to impose on an ever-changing reality.