He says that only books and love give meaning to life in a generation without utopias. And perhaps in that lack he found the brake. Of years. Because nine have had to pass since the publication of The truth about the Harry Quebert casewhat for Joël Dicker (Switzerland, 1985)the “irritating literary child prodigy,” returns to bookstores with The Alaskan Sanders casethe novel that completes the trilogy starring Marcus Goldman.
“Before the first part was published, I already knew that it was going to be a trilogy. when it was published The truth about the Harry Quebert case, the success was incredible, and I was afraid that people would think that I was just trying to take advantage of its effect if I put out a sequel. I didn’t want to lock myself into success. That’s why I decided to wait. Until now, I feel that the circle has been closed. I have written the novel without schemes. I like to write like the reader who reads it and fits all the pieces of a puzzle”, says the author in words to The Independent.
Thus, in The case of Alaska Sanders, Dicker recovers Marcus Goldman, the writer turned investigator and a character who, eleven years after putting behind bars the alleged killers of Alaska Sanders, whose body was found in 1999 at the edge of the lake in Mount Pleasant, a small town in New Hampshire, launches an investigation that will reunite him with Sergeant Perry Gahalowood. But there will be no bloody scenes or psychopaths either, because the author shies away from everything, so a murder becomes a “true extravagance” labeled a noir novel.
“The dead man is dead and we don’t need to put his intestines in his mouth. I am not interested in the bloody aspect of the case, but the reasons that led to the murder. My investigations hardly use the science that we have today that allows us to track suspects or take their fingerprints because I think they spoil the narrative. I find it more interesting to narrate an investigation that anyone could carry out.
The author acknowledges that there is nothing autobiographical in the novel, beyond, yes, his taste for art and for the painter of the America of the great depression and the crisis of modern life, Edward Hopper (Nyack, 1882 – New York, 1967). «The cover is the letter of introduction of the novel, the first bond that I establish with the reader. It interests me that when I show someone a painting by Hopper and ask him what he sees, he talks about everything that is not in the painting. The vision of him is fascinating because it demands vocation and imagination. When you look at his work, you see what is not painted, and I want that to happen with my pages, to create an atmosphere».
The same (or similar) that creates a movie. The truth about the Harry Quebert case It was awarded the Goncourt des Lycéens Prize, the Grand Prize for Novel of the French Academy and the Lire Prize for the best novel in the French language, among other awards. But in addition, it was made for television in 2018, something that the Swiss writer points out that he would repeat with Alaska Sanders, although he warns: «I liked the experience of taking the adaptation of the novel to the cinema, the teamwork and the gear that is created to make everything work. Now, as a reader I know what a book and a movie are, and I know that when I like a book and watch the movie I can’t expect the same experience, because it’s different. There are readers who feel betrayed by the image because they believe that what they have imagined is a lie. We believe that what we see on a screen is the absolute truth, but there are as many truths as there are readers of a book.
In this sense, Dicker considers that the novel has lost ground with respect to these fictions due to a kind of ‘elitism’, despite being a genre that “allows the reader to be the creator himself”. «That does not happen with television, because reading a book one imagines things that speak more about you than any work. Literature and publishing is still busy in discussions about whether a novel is a great book or not, if it is to read on the beach or for a Nobel Prize. When the world of literature realizes that what matters is that you like the book, it will surpass the achievements of television », he explains.
Success has changed Joël Dicker’s life, “but not reality, but the perception that others have of you.” «One remains the same, but he needs some time to get used to someone you don’t know greeting you on the street and he does know you. Even so, it is true that the success of a writer is less than that of a youtuber or an actor. They shout ‘I love you’ to the actors, they tell me how much they like my book. The success of a writer is not my own, it is that of my book. The novel, like the painting, is an object that exists by itself, and is disconnected from the author».
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“When literature knows that what matters is not a Nobel, it will surpass the achievements of television”