Andrej Nikolaidis (36) is a member of Montenegro's younger generation of writers unique for his original use of music in literature. In "Mimesis" (2003), he gave the chapters the names of his favourite songs, while his latest achievement - "Dolazak” (The Arrival) (2009) - has its own soundtrack. More precisely, it is a list of songs he recommends readers listen to while reading, which includes among others R.E.M.'s "It's The End of The World," Nick Cave's "Jesus of the Moon," The Smiths' "Meat is Murder," Belle & Sebastian's "O Come, O Come Emmanuelle," and The Stone Roses' "Made of Stone".
In an interview for South East Europe: People and Culture, the author sheds more light on "The Arrival's" protagonists, and speaks of their main traits.
If we take a closer look at the history of literature, we will see that writers mostly had great fun writing about the worst aspects of human character. However, "The Arrival" tells of something different: how very difficult it is to separate our best from our worst traits.
The characters I'm describing are not simply immoral. They live in a world in which they are unable to commit an ethical act. And, I will remind you that to commit a truly ethical act one must often, or almost always, go against morality. That's why this world is toilsome. They see all the superficiality, the lie of morality, but they cannot succeed in becoming ethical beings.
The book is doubtlessly centered around a father-and-son relationship. How much is the idea of the apocalypse or destruction linked to this relationship?
The whole book speaks of this relationship. In addition, it tells that the apocalypse is not mere destruction. What I will tell you now is unpopular and is hardly appropriate, but every story is linked to this father-and-son relationship, because culture is the space of the father and his prohibitions.
The main character's attitude toward life is quite indifferent, but so it is with many of the other characters. What makes them function at all?
No meaning is necessary for things to function. Yet our need to find this reason nevertheless exists. That's why books are written and films are made: so we could, in retrospect, come up with the reasons. That's why life is bearable only when transposed into art. Fantasy, unlike reality, always makes sense.
How convincing is the announced arrival of the apocalypse work as a literary incentive, compelling people to make confessions they otherwise would never make?
If we won't confess at the last moment, before the end of the world as we know it, when will we? This is, you must have noticed, a comical scene, because it actually speaks contrary to the logic suggested by my previous rhetorical question - it's a scene mocking those who are confessing. The scene describes today's culture of reality confessions. The point is this: no one lies like he who talks about himself. The culture of bare truth is a bare culture of lies.
All your books also feature music, while "The Arrival" and "Sin” (The Son) have their own soundtracks. Do you have your own song lists while writing and how much does music influence your expression?
I think it influences me a lot, because whenever I write I listen to music. I think the soundtracks I list at the end of a book help create a certain atmosphere - which doesn't necessarily help reading, but surely doesn't take away from it.
You often write about the film art, but there are many film-like elements in your books as well. Can you envision your books as motion pictures?
Hardly. Only "The Arrival." "Mimesis" is a huge flashback - the real time of the book is about an hour, which is the duration of the tape the main character is listening to. In "The Son" and "The Arrival" it is the time of one late afternoon, [and] evening, until early morning - a single night. The atmosphere is film-like, but there are many internal monologues and there's little physical action. Instead of doing something my characters are trying to come up with ever better reasons for their own inaction. And they are great at it. That's not really film-like...
There has been a lot of talk about the new wave of Montenegrin writers. Whom of these would you recommend to someone who knows little about Montenegrin literature?
Ognjen Spahić and Aleksandar Bećanović.