JKS Alumn Rowland Saifi Profiled in the Chicago Sun-Times!


September’s Hot Writer: Rowland Saifi

My genre: Fiction. Although I aspire to something that blends genres, I’ve come to terms that I am not a very good poet.

My literary influences: I count among my influences Samuel Beckett, Rikki Ducornet, Margurite Duras, James Joyce, Milan Kundera, Carole Maso, Vladimir Nabokov, Georges Perec, Jorge Louis Borges, Bruno Schulz, William Faulkner, Don DeLillo, Michael Ondaatje, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Bernhard, W. G. Sebald. And, of course, friends who are writing exciting things that continually reinforce the possibilities of literature.

My favorite literary quote: “It has whizzed back an inch or two on its reel…we are only lightly covered with buttoned cloth; and beneath these pavements are shells, bones and silence.” Virginia Woolf, The Waves. That’s just wonderful, the whole book is wonderful.

My favorite book of all time: Perhaps Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald is my favorite book right now, because I find I read it over and over. The nested interconnectedness of experience and history he is able to affect in the book always amazes me. If I can’t figure out what to read, I usually just grab Rings, or any of Sebald’s novels, really. At other times my favorite books have been, in a kind of chronology, Sanitarium Under the Sign of the Hourglass by Bruno Schulz, Ulysses by James Joyce, The Trilogy: Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett, Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, The Art Lover by Carol Maso, The Lover by Marguritte Duras, Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Debrovka Ugrescic, and The Waves by Virginia Woolf.

I’m currently reading: Future of Nostalgia, by Svetlana Boym, a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time and which examines the birth of nostalgia as a concept and its role in politics and art, particularly post-Soviet and exilic art. And Providences of the Night, by William Gay, which really captures something of Tennessee and the South in general, although the story is a standard kind of gothic tale.

My guilty pleasure book: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson. I know, I know (shaking head). I haven’t read it in many years, but it was exciting when I first read it and it’s likely due for another look.

Read the full profile here!