Thursday, April 29, 2010

André Aciman

Wednesday, April 28, 8:00pm
Fisher Family Hall
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

This evening author André Aciman appeared at the JCCSF to talk about his new novel, Eight White Nights. The event was recorded live for Binah, a local radio show & podcast. Before a well-read audience of about 50, he read excerpts from the novel & elaborated on some of the themes of the book. Mr. Aciman began by admitting that not much happens. It's what goes on in the mind that is important. Aciman thinks that the narrator is constantly putting off the inevitable so that he can enjoy think about it.

For this particular audience he noted that the main characters are Jewish, yet they meet each other at a Christmas party. He also told us that his translators could not find equivalents in their languages for when Clara says she is "lying low", which is the way she describes her reluctance to pursue a relationship.

Mr. Aciman is both charming & empathetic. A woman in the audience thought that the narrator was simply neurotic & that normal people do not spend so much time reflecting on their thoughts. When Aciman asked her how she knew that, she said because she is a professional psychologist! Without causing any offense, Aciman gently got her to concede that it is quite normal to reflect upon ourselves & that we really spend most of our time in our imaginations. Our mental life is our real life.

I've only just picked up the novel myself, & I wished I had gotten more than 30 pages into it before the event. While Mr. Aciman signed my book, I had to tell him that I became a reader of his work through an enigmatic comment about "a Shadow City moment" that was left on this blog post. He said he was flattered to have something he wrote reach the level of jargon.


Gavin Plumley said...

So thrilled that you went to this event...

Axel Feldheim said...

As well you should be. I believe you are to blame.