The event takes place in Alanta, a small town in a scenic Moletai region, a place of hills and lakes and forests. The site is a community college beside an old estate, now a museum. The estate has a rebuilt stately home and a fine park with a pond and swans, and I felt like a character in a Chekhov play when I walked around the place the last time I was there in 2007. See the manor house below:
Funny, none of us thinks about being a serf in those days, as most people were. When one bought an estate, one bought the villages and towns and serfs who lived in them. The whole system wasn’t much more than a modified form of slavery, really, that existed until 1861.
I’m curious to see the reception to this novel in Lithuania because the country was used as a contrast against the Jazz era and the rise of modernity. Therefore, in my novel, Lithuania was depicted as season-bound and backward.
Furthermore, the land I depicted was based on my reading and stories I had heard, so there are bound to be some inaccuracies in there.
I will try to explain that the Lithuania in the novel is an idea more than a place, but we’ll see how that goes over.
Luckily, the whole event is being run by Lonidas Donskis, interviewer, intellectual, and all-around genius in whose hands I feel utterly safe.
While I’m there, I’ll do a little research for my next new novel, the one that I’ll work on once the final details of Underground, which comes out in Spring of 2011, will be worked out.
This projected new new novel, untitled so far, will be set in the twenties. I’m interested in the establishment of a social/moral order after empires collapse, or, as we know, the failure to establish civil societies in the twenties and thirties in Europe.
The idea sounds a bit grand, but I’ll use a man I have mentioned in these posts before, Jonas Budrys, as my central character. He ran Lithuanian counter-intelligence in the twenties, and then helped seize the city of Memel / Klaipeda for Lithuania. He’s a fascinating historical character and I hope to build him into a compelling fictional one as well.
For purpose of research, I will walk the streets of Kaunas for a few days to get a sense of the world Budrys moved through.
Since I seem unable to get MobileMe working off the old laptop I’m taking to Lithuania, I won’t post here for a couple of weeks, but when I do, I’ll update on what happened there, as well as progress on Underground.
I’ll talk to you again around the beginning of July.