“I felt that I wanted to write about this question of what is passed down, and I felt quite comfortable doing it by writing about, for example, a woman who chooses, who has experienced so much trauma, I’m talking about Lotte now, who is a German Jewish refugee who becomes pregnant and simply cannot—does not feel she can have the child, because she feels that she will infect this child with this tremendous sadness and makes this quite radical decision to pass this child to another and I felt that I could write about it by writing about Aaron, this Israeli father who is at the end of his life facing his death and who has still not given up hope that he can be understood by his son, that he can understand his son, and who is dealing with the moral doubt of what it is to wonder whether one’s been a good parent. I felt that I could be that and I felt I could examine this idea that I was looking at from the beginning of a child’s life from the other side of it, and I think this way of somehow touching one’s material, touching the red-hot thing by coming at it from the other side is, for me, still a kind of thrilling way to do it.
It’s like if I were to write about a family now it would be a little like writing about a birthday where only good things happen and the child comes and everyone sings to him and he gets presents and everyone leaves. Well, it’s not a story, ultimately. A story happens when everyone comes and, with bated breath, the uncles and aunts hold their breath, and the child, you know, pushes the birthday cake off the table and leaves the room. It’s in that moment of darkness, the moment of difficulty and struggle, that we find something out about ourselves.”
—Nicole Krauss in conversation with David Grossman, October 13, 2010
Watch/listen to the whole event here…