Evan Fallenberg is author of the novels Light Fell (Soho Press 2008), When We Danced on Water (HarperCollins 2011) and The Parting Gift (Other Press 2018) and a translator of Hebrew fiction, plays and films. His work has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards and is the founder of Arabesque: An Arts and Residency Center in Old Acre, Israel, where he lives. This month, Evan will be hosting two events at the Centre – an in-conversation with Jay Anderson, and writing workshop.
What brings you to Perth?
Dear, dear friends, including the writer Bindy Pritchard. And a desire to see a place that’s a sort of mirror image to my life in Israel, on the other side of the world and as ‘young’ as my place is ‘old’ but in some ways, I believe, very similar.
How did you come to be a writer?
In my mid-thirties I was desperate for a creative outlet, and it was clear from the start that that creativity would express itself in words, my natural medium. I paid closer attention to the works of writers I loved, did an MFA in creative writing that changed my life, and wrote my first novel in 90-minute pre-dawn spurts over four years.
Tell us about your work in Vermont?
My colleague and friend Xu Xi and I founded and are faculty co-directors of the world’s first low-residency international MFA program in creative writing and literary translation. Students and faculty meet at six-day residencies around the world – Reykjavik, Hong Kong, Banff, Lisbon, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Santiago, to name the venues to date – and on the beautiful VCFA campus in Montpelier, Vermont, USA.
Why do stories continue to matter?
Storytelling is one of the most uniquely human traits, the way we connect to other people and make sense of our lives. It is also the only access we have to other people’s minds and souls, which is why I believe I have learned more about life from reading novels than from any other source.
What projects do you have planned for the future?
In terms of writing, I look forward to returning to a novel I set aside several years ago, now that I know what has to happen to one of the characters that will dramatically change the story, scope and meaning of the entire manuscript. I am also engaged in a process of shifting the tiny boutique hotel I own on the northern coast of Israel into a part-time artists’ residency. And still translating exciting new Israeli plays and libretti from Hebrew to English, teaching, and running a translation residency program in Jerusalem each summer.