by Gabriele Ottaviani
Clarissa Goenawan wrote The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida: Convenzionali is so glad to interview her.
From what intimate need does this novel arise?
I’m fascinated with the idea that often, we think that we know a person well, but actually, we don’t.
Who is Miwako?
In this story, she’s a university student who enjoys reading. But at the same time, anyone can be Miwako. Perhaps she’s a neighbor, a friend, a sister. She can be any of us.
What importance do silences, expectations, hopes, secrets have in life and in literature?
Silences often carry the loudest voice. Expectations could lead to disappointment, but hopes give us the strength to go on. Secrets are the truth we keep within ourselves.
How is a love born? And what does it need to make life happier?
Love is born unexpectedly – that’s why people say you’re falling in love. You can’t learn to fall. You just fall. Happiness depends on your priorities. If love is your priority, then having it in your life would likely make you happier.
How are grief and pain processed?
Each of us has our ways of processing grief and pain. When in doubt, give it time. Time heals.
The greatest Italian intellectual, Luca Serianni, recently passed away, used to say that you write for many reasons, one of which is to talk to yourself: do you think so too?
I do. For sure, I get to know myself better through writing.
What are your next projects?
My third novel, Watersong, just came out in June this year and hopefully, the translation would be ready very soon. Just like Rainbirdsand The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, Watersong is a literary mystery with elements of magical realism set in Japan. I’m also working on a draft of a new novel. All my works are set in the same universe, so you’ll meet a few familiar characters.