A short while ago, maybe a few days ago, I was a girl walking in a world of colors, of clear and tangible shapes. Everything was mysterious and something was hiding; guessing its nature was a game for me. If you knew how terrible it is to attain knowledge all of a sudden—like lightning elucidating the earth! Now I live on a painful planet, transparent as ice. It’s as if I had learned everything at the same time, in a matter of seconds.

—Frida Kahlo, quoted in Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo by Carole Maso

I write because there is something in my own life I need to investigate, something urgent and crucial to my existence, and I need to do it in the novel, as a novel.

It is not only to “understand,” but most of all to “be there.” Thus the novel has to be an open space, the language has to be open, it has to be “enterable” / possible to enter, emotionally and as bodily as language can get. “Be there,” because I think that is how we understand deeply, in a way that reaches us and might change us. The time it takes to write a novel, to “be there,” with my nagging existential quest, in the writing, alters something in me that I couldn’t do in another way.

—Hanne Ørstavik, “An Interview with Hanne Ørstavik

I am dealing with catastrophes that change your way of feeling and thinking. In what way? There is no more security. Everything was under this catastrophe. You look at everything through the catastrophe. You are still eating your breakfast, but you don’t forget the catastrophe.

—Aharon Appelfeld, The Art of Fiction No. 224

Interviewer: In your work, is the pre-Holocaust world like a fairy tale or a metaphor, the way money is for Balzac, snobbism for Proust, sex for Moravia? I mean, every writer describes the world with the particular obsession that is his metaphor, but then—

Appelfeld: I am not writing in metaphors. I am writing about catastrophes.

—Aharon Appelfeld, The Art of Fiction No. 224

She sits in a corner of quiet
               lost in a sea of darkness
               emptied of the thought of time
               eternal pit

—Nadia Anjuman, from “Eternal Pit" (translated by Diana Arterian and Marina Omar)