Interview by Skirmante Ramoskaite.
Q: Your prose possesses detailed approach to language. How does the Soviet mentality influence it?
NORA IKSTENA: I do not think that I am still under the influence of the Soviet mentality. My first mentor was a Latvian writer and translator Dzintars Sodums who lived in America and translated Joyce’s Ulysses into Latvian. Thanks to him I learned English very early and read the best of English literature including books by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and T.S. Eliot. Knowing English also helped me to access the world literature and I was particularly keen on reading the Danish author Karen von Blixen-Finecke known under her pen name Isak Dinesen. Russian literature in the original was an important influence for me as well. However Latvian folklore texts, prose and poetry of all times are the most important to me. Although my major influences are out of the Soviet context, the destructive power of the regime has left its mark on entire generations.
Q: How do you collaborate with the translators of your prose? Do you give them freedom or do you rewrite them together?
NI: Usually I give freedom for my translators. But also work hard with them together. I was blessed to work with great translators such as Margita Gailitis in English, Teji Grower in Hindi, Juris Kronbergs in Swedish and many others. I like to work together on translation process — it gives me a chance to see my writing from distance, from a different perspective.