Yellow Cab: You gained a PhD in mathematical logic at University of Buenos Aires where you currently teaches. How much does it help you to be a novelist? Is there any mathematical logic in your writing?
Guillermo Martinez: I don't think that there is any “mathematical” insight in my writing. In fact I was first a writer and much later I became a mathematician, so my way of thinking and conceiving stories has not been influenced by maths. But may be there is something of the mathematician attitude when correcting my work. I tend to look at it from some analytical distance, and to delete and change words to polish it in the search of some music and transparence, which is close to the aesthetics of mathematics.
YC: The main character of your novel Luciana B. has perfect profile of the victim. She is suffering a pain- losing her parents and the others by unknown killer, and while she lives in constant fear she slowly passing limit of insanity...
GM: The whole point of the novel is the ambiguity with respect to her mental state, the reader should not be able to decide whether she is mad from the beginning or if she is just telling a terrible truth, that is driving her mad.
YC: With seven commited murders, and also with Tolstoy`s epitaph „Revenge is mine, and I` pay, said God“, novel is full of biblical symbols. Revenge is main preoccupy of La muerte lenta de Luciana B.
What kind of punishment is waiting for those who commit such crime as a murder and hurt innocents with intention or without it?
GM: The novel deals with the difficulty of establishing a fair proportion for retaliation, and it raises a question that is for me very interesting: which should be a rational and reasonable punishment for an irreparable ofense such as the death of one of our beloved ones? There is a distance, a gap, between what general human justice can offer and what the particular pain and suffering of the victim claims. This is an eternal tragedy of civilization since the beginning of the times, and each civilization traid different answers and reparations... But the gap remains.
YC: The end of your book isn`t determined, it doesn`t offer final solution. Mystery about commited crimes stands open. There is an idea who stands against suspected that the murders are maybe just product of accidental events. Is the destiny of our lives in our hands?
GM: We think most of the time that it is, as a pilot in the sea that tries to keep the direction and knows that from time to time there will be storms... What is most frightening is not the blow of bad luck but the thought that there could be someone very powerful thinking all day long about ways of damaging you.
YC: Your story is personal,without any socio-political context. How much were you inspired with reality of your country?
GM: These themes of death, justice and revenge were discussed with not much advances during the last thirty years in my country. This was very painful to see: how human beings are so stubborn in deffending terrible crimes. How close is always the possibility of fascism. More than half of the argentinian population would sign today for death penalty. Fortunataly our government is signer of the Costa Rica Human Rights Accordment, and this possibility is forbidden...
YC: The Oxford murders is a 2008 thriller film adapted from yor award-winning novel of the same name, directed by Alex de la Iglesia. Are you satisfied with it`s popularity and it`s screening?
GM: Yes, I liked most of it. The actors were superb, John Hurt did a great job, and I also liked Elijah Wood very much. I think that the movie followed the main lines of the novel, with some variations, many of them ruled by film constrains and simplifications. But in general I do think that it is quite faithful to the spirit of the novel.
YC: You got to know Vladimir Tasic at the university in Oxford, who also became famous writer.You translated his book on spanish. Can you tell me more about this friendship?
GM: We shared at that time the visitors room at the Mathematical Institute. When he knew that I was a writer he told me that he had during his youth the same dream of writing novels. I encouraged him to write some short stories and he wrote a whole book during that time. He used to come to my house to read and discuss them. He would translate them for me in English while reading from his Serbian text. Later on I knew that he could publish that first book (Herbarium of Souls) in his country. And then he got the main national prize for one of his novels. I was very glad to see this kaind of second life that he earned for himself during those years.
YC: You entirely dedicate your life to writing. I wonder is possible to live well in Argenina as a writer?
GM: It is very difficult for a writer in Argentina to live just of the sales of his books. The readers market is quite small and there are not many translations of argentinian literature. I am very, very lucky in this aspect. But I published my first book twenty years ago and I am living on my writing just in the last five years. Most of the writers in Argentina have a second job, they teach creative writing, or they are cultural journalists or professors at the University.
YC: I`m curious about to know if you are good in Argentine tango? Finally, have you ever been in Serbia, or have you plan to come?
GM: I am afraid that I am not a very skillful dancer. I can pretend that I dance a little of salsa, but tango is well beyond my possibilities. Still, I have some plans to go with my wife to some place to learn at least the eight basic steps...
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