With Raluca Nagy about Japan
Raluca Nagy recently came to Cluj as part of the tour promoting the book A horse in a sea of swans, published by Nemira Publishing House in the N’Autor collection.
Read our discussion about the book, Japan and write below.
How did this book start?
To me, it was pretty simple. I wrote a story in a collection at the Three Publishing House, Letters from Cipangu. I liked this exercise, to write a little differently than I used to. From the scheme of the story, I developed the book. My question was: How is Japan?
You said you started the book in English, but you continued it in Romanian. Is English as a working language and Romanian as a relaxation language?
English is a working language from the perspective of my profession. Most publications are in English. The year I spent in Tokyo was spent mostly in English and Japanese. All the discussions, the interactions until I learned Japanese, happened in English. Somehow it seemed more natural to me to write in English. I made many word games by the ricochet. When I read it seemed very sanitized, it did not have fluency. I think that sounds too academic. When I switched to Romanian I relaxed, I was more master of myself.
How did anthropology help you?
This is my training, it has become a reflection, especially in the observation and cultural criticism. I also wanted the anthropology to reach a wider audience.
The scene that gave the title of the book I imagined it as an anime, something visual. I find it impossible not to influence your culture, especially when you are there when everything works that way.
Until a few years ago, Japan was not on the map of my attention, only at the level of a few directors. I like Takeshi Kitano, but otherwise no passion for anime. Maybe that’s why I went without expectations and without prejudices.
Do you have writer’s quarters?
I don’t have much. I need to write to process my own ideas. That’s why I write quite often. Not necessarily publishable things, but I write.
She was surprised to learn that I didn’t know what rosary means in a slang: a stylish, good-natured, beautiful and voluptuous, but good-natured girl who thinks of loved ones before she thinks of herself; only good wife. A horse in a swan sea
What have you read recently and can you recommend us?
The last book I read is Hideo Furukawa’s Soundtrack. The edition in French came to me, it’s a bit strange to read a Japanese author in French. It’s a movie made after her.
I personally liked the Diary of a Crazy Old Man, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki.
It was even a scene from my book compared to one of Tanizaki’s, the scene where Geoffrey’s ex-client goes into a cover-up with them and says he wants to take a bath with her.
I don’t like Haruki Murakami, but I recommend Ryu Murakami.
What is “at home” for you?
I think there are places that never leave you. “Home” is the place where the man with whom I share my life is. That’s what I think is the most important thing.
Raluca Nagy (Cluj-Napoca, 1979) is a doctor in social sciences from the Free University of Brussels and SNSPA Bucharest. He debuted in Romanian in 2005, at Revista 22, and has continued so far to: The Word, Old Dilemma, Only a Magazine, Totb, Arhiforum and Scene 9. He has contributed a story to the collective volume Letters from Cipangu. Japanese stories by Romanian authors (Trei Publishing House, 2015). He also published short prose in Iocan magazine (2016) and in the Magazine of Stories (2017–2018), whose creative writing workshop followed. A horse in a big swan is his debut in individual volume.
Photo via Nemira.