My goal is to change how the Latin Americans have to pass through Spain before being translated. That process could take years, but my goal is to move my writers directly from Latin America to the English language industry.
That’s partly why I wrote the novel: how do you find that solitude and how to claim it? In some ways this city is very good for us—its rhythms dictate to you, it’s testing you, it causes you to adapt, improvise, stretch. But in other ways, especially if you’re interested in reading and writing, it can be a challenge and a little deranging.
So what I mean to say is that those whose minds are most in need of changing are precisely the ones that aren’t going to change their minds based on information, because bigotry is not a result of ignorance, as much as we like to think it is. Bigotry is a result of fear, and fear is impervious to data.
That’s why I hate it when people say, “I don’t have time for reading or writing.” Some people say, “I love writing, but I don’t have the time.” They don’t know that by reading and writing, you earn time. Because you’re living twice. So the more you read, the more time you have. You have layers of existences. When I don’t write or read, I can clearly sense that I am wasting a part of my day.
The ability to think about and imagine other people’s lives and minds, to enter into their heads, is the beginning of empathy, of the moral imagination and sense. That is exactly what fiction does, too. I wanted to have that not only as the invisible and silent dynamo powering my book, but also to make The Lives of Others wear the morality of the novel form on its sleeve.