Thursday, June 24, 2010

Special Feature: Interview with Alina Bronsky, author of Broken Glass Park

Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Alina Bronsky, author of the luminous Broken Glass Park. You can read my review here. I loved her heartbreaking story about the consequences of domestic violence on a Russian immigrant family. My Q&A with Bronsky follows.

Can you tell us a little about the setting- the cultural conditions for Russian/Russian-Jewish immigrants in Germany?

AB: In real life, there is a broad range of different immigrant groups. There are more and less well educated people with very differnt backgrounds, personal stories, language skills, and chances of success. For my novel I picked out a rather special, but tragically very realistic setting: a housing project populated by Russian-born immigrants who haven’t succeeded in gain a foothold in Germany; their lives on the edge of the society are full of frustriation, addiction and violence.

Why did you decide to tell this particular story? What research did you do? I was very impressed with the realism with respect to the psychology of abuse in the book.

AB: Thank you very much. I wanted to tell a story of survival, to describe a girl rebelling against her destructive environment. It was natural for me to choose a heroine who is born in Russia and grew up in Germany like me. I did not need any special research for this story. The novel is based on my own experiences and observations.

Who influences your writing?

AB: Every book I read influences me - I am always aware of what I like or dislike while reading. I also love listening to other people telling the stories of their lives. Nothing is as interesting as emotions.

Near the end of the book, Sascha has a beautiful epiphany over a game of chess. Her subsequent actions, which end the novel, seem to me to contradict the hopefulness and joy she feels. Do they? What's the final message of the book? What does the future hold for the Saschas of the world?

AB: Yes, Sascha is a contradictory character. She is torn between hope and desperation, joy and the wish for destruction, love and hatred. I prefer not to indicate any messages but to let every reader free to feel about Sascha in his or her own way. As far as I am concerned, I am optimistic about her future. Girls like Sascha will decide their own road.

Thank you so much for your participation. I hope your book continues to get lots of attention and readers, and best of luck with your writing. I hope to see many more books from you!


Sandra said...

This book is waiting to be picked up at the library for me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I only skimmed the review but will be back to read it in full after I've read the book. I know that when you like a story, I probably will too. Thanks for reviewing it, and for the interview.

bermudaonion said...

The fact that the book is based on the author's own life experience makes it sound even better to me.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

A fascinating interview. I'm away to reserve a copy of this book at the library

Marie Cloutier said...

Sandra, I'm glad I got the chance to talk to her. The book is really powerful.

Bermuda- exactly!

Petty- Great! I can't wait to hear what you think!

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the interview with the author. Knowing that the book was based on some of her own experiences as a Russian living in Germany explains why the story is so powerful. The stories that come from our own personal experiences are always the most powerful ones.

Marie Cloutier said...

Kathleen, absolutely. I don't know how close the book is to someone's real life, but it felt very real to me.

Anonymous said...

I love it that the author left the end of the book ambiguous about Sascha's future. I like an ambiguous ending because they allow me to assume the sunniest possible future without feeling the author's failed to deal with the serious and lasting repercussions of the issues the characters have been dealing with all through the book.