Much has been made of the image of writers in Paris—romanticized and idealized in fiction and on screen, these émigré artists in sidewalk cafés spark our imagination with unusual force. But rarely do the real-life figures speak to us directly to comment on their work, their lives, and their reasons for choosing to live and work in Paris.
In these striking interviews, E. M. Cioran, Julio Cortázar, Brion Gysin, Eugène Ionesco, Carlos Fuentes, Jean-Claude Carrière, Milan Kundera, Nathalie Sarraute, and Edmund Jabès do just this as they speak out on the risks they've taken, on their struggles and discoveries, on tradition, challenge, and their near-unanimous status as émigrés. A consummate interviewer, Jason Weiss spoke in depth with these pathbreaking artists regarding their lives, their craft, and their very special relationship to Paris. Their writings were naturally the main focus of investigation, but Weiss' concern was always to build on previous interviews, to deepen certain lines of inquiry and open new ones, to contribute fresh material to the ongoing record. The result is a series of invigorating, detailed portraits that go beyond personality, habits, and pleasures to examine some of the causes and effects in the unique relationship of place and temperament.
Writing at Risk suggests that there is more than we suspect binding writers of such disparate cultures and genres…perhaps their attitudes toward writing, perhaps their common attraction to risk. Readers will relish the immediacy of these interviews and will want to (re)discover the work of these exceptional artists.