Meet the distinguished writers Taiye Selasi and Colum McCann in this inspiring talk about finding a way to be yourself, a “citizen of elsewhere”, with more than one home and an international identity based on many local experiences.
“What all human beings are looking for to a certain extend, is a way to just be themselves.” A conversation between writers Taiye Selasi and Colum McCann, about writing, time travel, looking for somewhere to call home and about finding ones identity somewhere between the established labels.
The two distinguished writers agree on many things, such as the pleasures of writing and obliterating oneself in the process: “Becoming other” as McCann calls it. “I think that anyone who takes fiction seriously knows that he or she must remove himself entirely from the project in order to tell anything true at all” Selasi says.
Both Selasi and McCann have experience with writing music, and Selasi explains how writing has some of the same principles of composition; short and long sentences, rythm, movement, motif, melody, pace, for example. McCann adds: “The music finds the meaning”
McCann explains that he’s very interested in the clash between “the supposedly real and the supposedly imaginary”. Reality is full of absurd stories, which nobody would believe in a work of fiction: “It strikes me that the imagined is as real as what we call reality, and reality itself is deeply imagined.” McCann’s fictional characters are as real as all the people he has never met: “The imagination lives in this most extraordinary way. Its very very real.”
Selasi finds that “what all human beings are looking for to a certain extend, is a way to just be themselves, but what many of us are struggeling with, is the weight of group identity, religion, state, colour, imagined things that become real.” The fact is that many people today are “international bastards” — people who rather than being “multinational” have what Selasi calls multi-local identities, because: “The local is the universal, with the walls taken down.”
McCann calls this “being a citizen of elsewhere.”