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
               That
               eternal pit

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

They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? —Carpe— hear it?— Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

Dead Poets Society (1989)