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“Giving voice to women and their experiences of reality”

Interview with Slovenian author Ana Schnabl


Ana Schnabl is a critically acclaimed Slovenian novelist, short story writer and academic who “belongs to a canon of authors building on the legacy of great women writers and poets of the past and correcting age-old injustices that the system has inflicted upon women,” in the words of current affairs magazine Mladina.


Her collection of short stories Razvezani (Disentangled) received Best Literary Debut Prize at the annual Ljubljana Book Fair in 2017, among a host of awards, and has already been translated into several languages.


“The collection entails ten stories that explore moments in the lives of characters who struggle with social limitations, addictions and trauma,” Schnabl said, speaking ahead of her appearance at the 6th EU-China International Literary Festival.


“The majority of the perspectives I explored in the stories are female – through this I aimed to give voice to women and their experiences of reality.”


She has recently turned to the novel form with The Masterpiece, a book that has also met with widespread success and a number of translation deals, including into English, German and Serbian.


The novel is part love story, part political drama set in Yugoslavia in the 1980s that not only rocks the lives of the two main characters, Ana and Adam, but also changes the map of the world.


From a craft point of view, the process of writing short stories is very different to the process of writing a novel, she says.


“It is not only due to length, but also due to the level of infatuation with the characters both require. A short story is a sneak peak, whereas a novel is a months, even years long conversation with the characters and the environments one creates.”


But whether writing in the longer or shorter form, she says her primary motivation remains the same – to find a true voice for the characters she is depicting.


“The biggest incentive of my writing is to describe the reality of inner lives and each time find a proper language for their solo or group concert,” she said.


Her creative writing is informed to an extent by her expansive academic work. A doctoral student of philosophy, her research focuses on feminist autobiographical writing, a topic that she says she herself can have intellectual struggles with.


“My utmost struggle with my dissertation is exactly the definition of feminist autobiography: what do these phenomenons mean? What makes a text feminist? Are there procedures of such writing one can recognise or explore? What types of languages arise in writing/confessing as a feminist?”


In her research she considers a range of urgent issues pertaining to female emancipation.


“To me, the most pressing issues related to female emancipation are the issues of violence against women which often derive from the repression of female sexuality,” she said.


“I live in a country where the battery of women and femicide are common, but are rarely linked to toxic patriarchal patterns; usually they are swept under the umbrella of ‘jealous/mentally unstable partners’,” she added.