Taiye Selasi on sex in another language

Africa39 author, Taiye Selasi. Image credit: The Independent, UK.


Arifa Akbar reports on Taiye Selasi recounting her experiences writing for GQ Italia and attending the Iceland Writers Retreat (IWR):

Writing about sex in Italian for magazines gives her a freedom she wouldn’t have in English, she says: “I write about sex – women sleeping with Italian men – for GQ Italian. I write directly in Italian, particularly when I want to have a bit of distance from myself. I started writing in English and thought ‘This is a cheap Sex and the City and I’m not Carrie Bradshaw’.”

"Ghana Must Go",  by Best Young British Novelist (2013) and Africa39 author, Taiye Selasi.

“Ghana Must Go”, by Best Young British Novelist (2013) and Africa39 author, Taiye Selasi.

For Selasi, a key factor is her limitations in Italian. As counter-intuitive as this sounds for good writing, I see her point: a smaller, more utilitarian vocabulary can’t accommodate the obfuscations and hiding places that her boundless English could allow: “My vocabulary is limited in Italian and it should be when you describe sex, really. I’ve found that simple subject verbs in sex are wonderful. It means the writing is direct and honest because you can’t dissemble with an adverb.” It’s a method exercised by English language novelists such as Geoff Dyer who succeed in writing such scenes in convincing ways by using exact, almost clinical, language. Not everyone can achieve this effect though, which is Selasi’s point.
(source: The Independent, UK)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s