The story in Saturday European Fiction this week – “Slow Walking Course” by Uršuľa Kovalyk – contained the same disturbing and darkly humorous combination of the humdrum every day and the magically surreal that I found so striking in the first story of hers I read – “Mrs. Agnes’s Bathroom.” That story was included in the Slovak fiction issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction put out by Dalkey Archive Press in 2010. It also prompted me to contact the author and ask her some questions about her writing, literary influences and so on. The following interview is the result of that:
literalab: In “Mrs. Agnes’s Bathroom” and “Moonmaiden” there is a very interesting and unique mix of realism and fantastical elements. How did you arrive at that particular style and is your current writing in a similar style?
Uršuľa Kovalyk: I don’t know exactly how I came to that style. In any case, I’ve always been fascinated by writers like G.G.Márquez, Isabel Allende, Virginia Woolf, that had magical elements in their work. I really dislike talking about my writing style though, because I’m not a literary theorist and honestly, when I write I don’t think about what style to use.
Style is only the form but it’s content that’s really important to me. You can learn a style in a writing course, but your content is something you have to experience and live through yourself, or observe very closely. All of my stories are different because each theme I’m writing about demands its own specific style. Sometimes my writing is extremely dreamlike and abstract, but then sometimes terse and direct.
Read the full interview here
Read a review of “Mrs. Agnes’s Bathroom” here
You can also watch a documentary (with English subtitles) by Benjamin Richards about Theatre With No Home, the theatrical group Uršuľa Kovalyk runs together with her husband Patrik Krebs here
Photo – From a promotional poster for the magician Harry Kellar, 1897