Interview, Jewish Telegraph (UK)

The Jewish Telegraph (UK)
June 18, 2010 (page 28, Arts & Entertainment)

Author maintains the mystery behind book . . . with no names


MYSTERIOUS Canadian author D.O. Dodd described his/her latest novel Jew as representative of how we have all become Jews.

“Unfortunately, the word has come to characterise the persecuted and displaced,” explained Dodd in an exclusive email interview with the Jewish Telegraph. “As such we are all Jews.”

The novel begins with a man waking up in a pile of bodies, not knowing who he is and why he ended up in a mass grave.

He dons another man’s military uniform and enters a nearby town, only to discover he is the man that the occupying soldiers have been waiting for.

But contrary to expectation Dodd – who won’t reveal his/her gender – wasn’t specifically referring to the Holocaust when setting such a scene.

In fact, as Dodd explained, the book is based in no specific place.

“At first, I suspect that I had the Holocaust in mind – as a child I remember seeing photographs of the horrific piles of bodies,” the author recalled.

“It was a hideous site and nightmarishly carnal because of the nudity – it stuck with me for ages.

“But upon reflection, I realised that I could not write a book about the Holocaust.”

Dodd continued: “There is already a great collection of books that have done an exemplary job of capturing this tragedy, particularly The Years of Extermination by Saul Friedlander and What We Knew by Eric A Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband.

“So I thought to apply the pile of bodies to another plot.

“There have been many different piles of bodies in our history.

“We are always trying to kill one another because of who we believe we are.”

The reclusive Canadian writer’s third novel is written entirely in the third person, which creates a deep, yet intriguing subtext.

“I specifically avoid the first person to indicate that we are all the same by distancing ourselves from the ‘first person’,” said Dodd.

“We are all made up of the same kindness and cruelty.”

And the author revealed why the novel creates a further sense of distance by identifying characters by their roles, rather than names.

Dodd said: “By focusing so intensely on our roles, as in war, we often find our true identities eradicated.”

Themes in the book include the idea of the double, identity and war.

Although confusing at times, because characters are unnamed, Dodd successfully creates a chilling and fraught Kafka-esque atmosphere.

Like its female characters, the novel is stripped of all flowery artistry and is raw to the core.

The increasing use of Arabic words in relation to violence adds to the growing turmoil of the text and the reader is left asking questions, but wanting more.

However the modest author, who is currently working on Vaw, a book about domestic slavery, said he/she continues to be humbled by his/her success.

“I am always surprised when a single person finds value in something that I have done,” Dodd added.

* Jew, published by No Exit Press, is available now.

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