Thursday , September 29 2022

Lukas Bärfuss: "What makes the suicide particularly difficult is that you will never know what motivates him."


“You can't end up with any suicide. Ala“ Never, # writes Lukas Bärfuss in a passage in his novel ”Koala“.

Inside, one of the most respected voices of German literature, the Swiss writer points to the suicide and consequences of his half-brother.

Unlike other deaths, the author explains that a close person leaves his / her life to others. permanent wound in the form of questionsMany of them were missed.

"Koala" (2014), published in Spanish by the Argentinean publisher, Adriana Hidalgo, is mentioned around these painful questions: What causes a person to commit suicide? When do you decide? Who is to blame? Why is this type of death surrounded by silence?

Iyor All these questions are still in your head, “he says. barfuß To the BBC World.

His novel is a puzzle of apparently unrelated fragments: a gift where personal tragedy is told in a sincere tone, the attempts and misunderstandings of the first English settlers in Australia, aseptic, almost treated remarks. The zoology of Koala's habits

The result is a complex and surprising metaphor reflected in the paradoxical relationship with deaths, the sense of belonging to a space, loneliness, and the work of our societies.

Lukas Bärfuss, born in 1971 in Thun, Switzerland, is the author of the game. "Sexual neuroses of our parents""Bus" and "Test" – some of which are represented in Spanish, two essays and a few novels.

Her work has been recognized by the Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis award in German literature in 2005, Berliner literature in 2013 and the Swiss Literary Prize in 2014, receiving the most prestigious literary awards. He is a member of the German Language Academy since 2015. and Literature.

Bärfuss attends the Arequipa Hay Festival in Peru.

Before making this appointment, he talked to BBC Mundo about some of the issues that went through his work.

His novel "koala"partly based on their own experience." with suicide of his brother. How did you decide that this personal experience was a good starting point for a book?

Normally the origins of a novel are very dark, it is difficult to say when you decided that something would become a novel.

But in this case, my life was a really concrete moment. It was in April in the south of France. I also had a friend who was a poet and writer, and we talked about this name Koala, who had somehow entered my brother and brain.


That was the name Boy Scouts gave my brother, and I knew that I should follow the traces of that animal to try to discover what happened to him.

But before her, her death was a very strange experience. Suicide is actually very common. Not bizarre is happening at all levels of society and is something very old. Philosophy has been talking about suicide since its foundation and there is a very rich literary tradition. However, when you experience it, you are the first person affected.

There is a division between your own experience and this cultural tradition. It is also an experience surrounded by silence. As a result of suicide, you feel like you are entering a kind of brotherhood that loses a loved one.

I always think it's a good start for literature, for every kind of literature: when there is a disconnect between your personal experience and your cultural activities.

What do you think she is Did the writing process of suicide help you to cope with this experience?

I don't believe writing a novel about suicide doesn't help in any way to overcome it, because you have to keep it open to examine it. It is better to go over to the psychiatrist, it is cheaper and gives better results.

To help me out somehow, it was to share it: give people the voice of people who can't express their passing. It was a powerful thing. I learned that literature is not just to enjoy, learn and communicate with other people. That was very interesting.

What do you think of this silence about suicide?

This is a difficult issue. I think there are many reasons for this silence. One of the main points is that we don't know how to talk about a person who committed suicide. Every time you bring this up, it's like you killed it, and it's like an environment that surrounds you. In a way, nerdy. And if you're friends, you don't want to ruin the meeting.


There is a big secret and a mystery around this process, because you don't know at what moment that person decided to commit suicide. You can remember a moment with that happy person, but you don't trust that memory anymore. You think he was already suicidal. It makes everything, every moment, every moment you love. This is very painful and the easiest way to overcome is to keep your mouth closed.

In his book, he tells his past that he feels compelled to revise his past in an attempt to understand what happened to him.

Completely. And you feel you've been rejected. It's almost like a personal crime, because you couldn't keep it alive. Your relationship with this person was not strong enough and important enough to keep him alive. This is not easy to overcome.

You have to make a lot of effort to talk about it, but it's nice to try, because it helps. You realize you're not alone. It is quite common.

The feelings of the narrator "koala" For the suicide, they go to hate and confusion. Do you think there are some patterns, a logical set of these feelings?

When you lose someone, you go through different stages. First of all, you don't want to admit it, then you get angry. Then you'il learn to live with him.

But what makes suicide particularly difficult is that you will never know what motivates him. All these questions will stay in your head. This is something that never ends. When you lose someone because of illness or accident, the cause of death is clear. It's not suicide.

"koala" from an intimate story to a kind of historical novel about the colonization of Australia. Looks like the book contains a few different novels. However, a theme that exists throughout the text is the relation of contemporary society with business. As you say, what kind of connection is there between this "modern slavery" and the suicide problem you have planned for all your work?

I'm not sure I can make this connection as an author, but I'm sure readers can. What I can say is that this novel deals with both suicide and our relationship with working in modern societies. For us, the work was, in a certain way, the only religion.


Our status in society is firstly determined by our professional status. It's weird because I had an idea that when I was little, success should work less. And this is the opposite. Success is more business.

On the other hand, the job was used as a punishment. In all myths that explain how people are human, work is a punishment. It wasn't good. The bourgeois society turned into a positive thing that brought the situation and the situation.

Another question about the job is that if you believe in life after death, you don't think you will have to work in that place. End of paradise. Usually we don't dream of touching the gates of paradise, and we told you that you have to get up at 8:00 in the morning to get to work at 8:00 in the morning. But how can it be so important to work in our society?

If anything combines all political parties, at least in Europe, it is the concept of competitiveness. We have to be competitive, and it looks like a good thing. The fact that the economy does not grow is not understood as a positive thing, and this is on the left and the right.

However, I realized that the job could destroy people. We have seen in the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century and in the British Empire, which previously exported the poor to their colonies. This served as a model for the Nazis and the Stalinists in the 20th century.


This historical context is very important because I didn't want to write a book about my personal history. That was not my intention.

Do you think there is an alternative to this system that is not a life beyond business?

I'm not sure I'm not offering a solution. I am a writer and in a way I describe the problem, its uncertainty and its contradictions.

But I think our business relationship is changing very fast. Most of the work we did 20 years ago will disappear. We will see incredible progress with artificial intelligence, but this will change our relationship with our business.

I believe that the gap between employees and non-owners will deepen. Works will turn into scarcity in the near future, and alternatives will appear automatically.

It seems to be a contradiction in which the work is transformed into our lives and at the same time the work will disappear.

It will become even more valuable. Whoever gives more status will be.

Back to physical public spaces?

Exactly. This is really important.


How does this match our lives in social networks and virtual communities?

There is no virtual community. There's only virtual isolation. The idea that communication separates us from one another is something that has existed for a long time. For example, Walter Benjamin mentioned this side effect of progress. I think it is something rooted in our bourgeois capitalist societies.

Her novel ends with the narrator, says after her brother is buried, "back to work" …

(Laughter) Ironically, right?

Work is like the only way to move forward with your own life. No other choice?

I haven't discovered it yet. Maybe the next time we talk, we have an answer to that question. I don't know, neither for myself nor myself.

This article is part of the digital version of Hay Festival Arequipa, which is attended by writers and thinkers from the city of Peru between 8 and 11 November 2018.

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