Alex Epstein was
born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1971 and moved to Israel when
he was eight years old. He is the author of four collections of short
stories and three novels; his work has been translated into English,
French, Spanish, Russian, Greek, Dutch, Croatian, and Italian. In
2003 he was awarded Israel’s Prime Minister’s Prize for
Literature. In 2007 he participated in the International Writing
Program at the University of Iowa. In 2010 he was writer in residence
at the University of Denver. He teaches creative writing in Tel Aviv.
Blue Has No South
(Clockroot Books, April 2010)
by Annie Clarkson
Lunar Savings Time
(Clockroot Books, April 2011)
with Alex Epstein
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Alex Epstein: I wrote Blue
Has No South for 4 years. Some of the very short stories were written
for long months, with dozens of versions, sometimes different from
one another by a single word, and sometimes by a completely different
idea or narrative.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
beginning no, I just wanted to see if I could find a different form for
my art, much more focused and dense. To tell a story with few words
as possible, a story that sometimes catches just one emotional
movement between two people, and sometimes tries to grasp the whole
world. After a while I started to think about the "absence of
words" as of a material, and was able to aim for a collection of
such micro fiction. There is still something deep that draws me
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
Some of the stories were published in magazines and collections in
print and on the net before the book was published, so I was able to
see how they "work" outside my manuscript and decide if they should be
included. I guess that more than 30 stories were left out. Regarding
the order, it was a sisyphic work of… intuition. To be honest, as a
reader I would never read such a book from cover to cover, in the same
way I would never read One Thousand Nights and One Nights from start to beginning. I hope that Blue Has No South is a book that invites you to find something new with every read.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
that is told, but more importantly, that is not told, and just waits
to be discovered in the white margins surrounding the words.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
but from time to time I do try to imagine the reaction of my best
critic, my wife. I am usually surprised: she sees potential in the
draft's of stories that I consider doomed, and sees a lot of work in
the stories I consider to be completed.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
AE: Which story
you think you will remember in ten years?
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
I am glad
that people are reading my books… but I was never into the economy
of selling/buying books. I always tell people to look for my stories
on the net, or just take the book from the library. My publishers
What are you working on now?
I have just
published another collection of short-short stories in Israel, Lunar
Savings Time. During 2011 it will also be published in USA, by
Clockroot Books. I am still writing very short fiction, but have no
idea if there will be a third collection in this form. I am a very
slow writer these days, so it's way early for me to tell.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
AE: Dutch Apocrypha, Zbigniew Herbert, Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro, Historias de cronopios y de famas, Julio Cortázar