Very important of course although - or because - she didn't quite conform to your tradition idea of a mother. As an adult I began to feel that I was the older one and she the immature. A friend of my wife's once said that she thought that I was writing about women as a way to understand my mother.
T.S. Eliott said that poetry is what is lost in translation but I write novels and see it differently. Something is always lost but something else is gained. The translation is a new text in itself with new possibilities and I always urge translators to reinvent rather than translate thing literally in order to render the flow and the atmosphere - the style - of the original. I prefer reading books in the original version if I can but sometimes I miss too much and turn to the translation. It is all about catching the style, really, and you can miss it if you don't know the foreign language well enough.
Was it our turn perhaps? People mostly identify us with crime fiction which I find totally uninteresting and also ironical since we are supposed to be the most perfect societies on Earth in terms of welfare and justice etc. So why the crime? Perhaps it is our subconsciousness lurking behind the perfect facade.
One will not do but I would start with a novel by Herman Bang, any novel of his will give you an impression of the people, the places, the intimacy, the melancholy, the humour, the provincialism, the longing.
I see similarities in the sense that we live along the same coast and have shared life conditions related to nature and geography. But mostly we are different because of history and religion. We are Lutherans whereas Belgium is mostly Catholic, if I understand it correctly. We were never part of The Great War. We are a marginal country whereas you have always been at the - often painful - centre of events.
I normally do although I cannot always read what they say. Perhaps it is just as well ...
Yes, that is the meaning of writing. But it is paradoxical because I can only do it by way of keeping a distance - the distance of language itself. If a passage is emotional, I want the language to be cool. This is important. I don't show emotions by way of expressing them through my writing style. I try to make the feelings visible and tangible and that is something else. Open a space for the reader to contemplate.
No, each book reflects a stage in my personal life and development, both personally and in terms of literary approach. I used to write more experimental Modernist stuff, wishing to express myself (and believing I was special). Now I feel less special, more like everyone else, and I try to write in a way that doesn't point at itself but rather at what I am trying to see more clearly.
Haven't you noticed the sexual success of ugly little men? My experience is that looks have little to with it and who thinks of himself that he is fantastically goodlooking? Only a moron would, I believe. Staying faithful is a decision you make, a way you relate to whatever possibilities you are met with and also a way, when you are not faithful, to make more or less unconscious decisions about your life as it is.
Each story, each book, is a chapter if you like in the long narrative that is my writing life. And I always loved the line from Wim Wenders' movie Im Lauf der Zeit when Robert says: Ich bin meine Geschichte.
One theme that I keep returning to is how we need to accept coincidence as a condition even if it makes us feel ephemeral and weightless.
I was so happy when Modiano got the Nobel prize, I have loved his work for decades and he is very dear to me. Lately, I discovered a totally different author, Curzio Malaparte. Read "Kaput" about the Second World War, it is deeply disturbing and beautiful at the same time.
I think the answer is below the question. Thank you everyone for your questions. I felt that we proved here that books travel well.