Interview with Adam Novy

“Novels Are Fantasies of Powerlessness and Power” — Biblioklept Talks to Adam Novy About His Novel The Avian Gospels


The first interview I started to read of Adam Novy provided a ton of great information on his writing process and what he was thinking about while writing this book, which helps a lot in our analysis of this book. One of the first things Novy says is that he began writing The Avian Gospels after 9/11. This is very interesting to me because I carried over our discussion on trauma into my reading of Gospels, and I was able to find a lot of traumatic instances within the book through the aggression between classes and cultures, which, as is said in one of the quotes that the book includes under “Praise” for the Gospels. This is interesting given the time that Novy started writing the book (that the book is, in many ways, a response to 9/11), and the fact that after 9/11 trauma theory became flooded with literature on that attack and its a/effects on American culture, society, and identity.

After 9/11, there was a moment where I felt like all Americans were on the same team. Now I wonder if we’ll ever feel that way again. Pardon me for living in the moment, but this country is just so completely fucked. This sensation of being American swiftly curdled into panic, but by then, the coordinates of my work had all been changed. I wanted to find a voice with room for both the historical and the intimate, which led me to a kind of first-person plural officialese. It ended up creating this echo-chamber effect where the personal and political identities of each character were different, and nobody could quite be who they were supposed to be, or wanted to be. (Adam Novy)

There is quite a bit of trauma theory literature that discusses the loss of an individual’s self in becoming an other in order to be on the “same team.” Though I have only gotten a hundred pages into Novy’s book, I have begun to see the antithesis to this loss of self in Morgan and his rebellious nature towards the Judge, Mike, and all the other RedBlacks, which is admired by the youth of where ever it is that this book is taking place in.

One other interesting point I’d like to bring up at this point, in regards to the novel’s creation coming out of 9/11, is the second quote that begins this novel: “It’s hard to convince people / you’re killing them / for their own good” (Molly Ivins). I just find this quote interesting now knowing where the idea for the book came from and how this quote can also relate to America’s response to Terrorism (capital T to represent [subjugate] the otherness of Others).


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