Christopher Kloeble has a very dry sense of humour. The German author, who was at Goethe Institute recently, answered, “Sometimes it feels so good to kill someone. Only novel characters, of course!” when someone asked him why he spoke about death so much in his books.
Kloeble has been travelling — Chennai, Tiruchy, Puducherry — extensively meeting with students. “It is always quite demanding to keep the attention of students, much more at least than at ‘normal’ events. But it is also often more rewarding to be around a crowd of young people who are so enthusiastic about life. Makes me want to go back to university again,” he tells his reporter on the sidelines of his book-reading session with noted author and translator Indran. The duo was reading from Kloeble’s latest book, which is currently being translated into English, More Often Than Not At All Very Fast. City Express catches up with the spirited author
Tell us a bit about your latest book, More Often Than Not All Very Fast
It is the story of Albert, who has always had to be a father to his father Fred. Fred neither understands the concept of making children, nor is he able to tell Albert who his mother is. This is so, because Fred is, as the other villagers say, ‘slow in the head’. So the two of them embark on a journey to find Albert’s mother, because at the beginning of the novel Albert finds out that Fred has only five months to live...
How did you manage to marry a family saga and humour together in the book?
If I knew the answer to this question it wouldn’t have taken me so many years to write! I just write what I would enjoy reading. And if someone else says that they like it, well, then that’s all I can hope and wish for.
We hear you are turning the book into a screenplay. How does it feel to alter your work in such a way?
It’s not as bad as some people might imagine. I get to change a lot of the story, which can also be quite a lot of fun. It reminds me of a childhood fantasy of mine: I always imagined how great it would be if in real life one could rewind and just live a different life, making different choices, leading to different outcomes.
So many things get lost in translation. With More Often Than Not... how are you working on that? (We heard the title is still a work in progress)
Fortunately, I don’t have to work on the translation. Aaron Kerner, the US translator, is doing a fabulous job rendering the book into English and I couldn’t be happier with his work. I’m very much looking forward to his interpretation of the text.
Are there any topics close to your heart that you’ve always wanted to write about but haven’t so far?
Of course! So many! Inspiration is never the problem. It is always the lack of time. That’s why I’m usually working on several projects simultaneously.
What is your next book about?
Shadows and secrets...
We hear this is your first visit to Chennai...
And it was much too short. I’m planning on coming back next year when I return to India (I live in Delhi during the winter and in Berlin during summer). But at least I will get to taste some delicious South Indian food when I get back to Germany. I’ve found a Saravana Bhavan there!