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Ilija Trojanow

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Julian Preece

Ilija Trojanow, born in Bulgaria in 1965 and brought up in East Africa, established his name as an international writer with the novel Der Weltensammler or The Collector of Worlds (2006), about the cross-cultural Victorian adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton. Since the mid-1990s Trojanow has been prolific in a number of genres, including travel, ethnography and science fiction. He has also become a major public intellectual in Austria and Germany with provocative interventions on topics such as Islam and the West, civil rights in the age of cybersurveillance and climate change. His imaginative writing sits at the centre of a number of defining contemporary concerns, in particular the relationship between identity, language and culture.
This volume contains an interview with Trojanow, a previously unpublished essay by him on Lessing’s Enlightenment parable of inter-religious tolerance, Nathan der Weise ( Nathan the Wise), and essays by European and North American scholars on central aspects of his growing œuvre. The contributors explore why Trojanow is one of today’s leading writers of German while challenging a number of myths that have grown up around him and his magnum opus, Der Weltensammler.

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ILIJA TROJANOW AND JULIAN PREECE Interview

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Vienna, 6 September 2011 Julian Preece: Good afternoon, Ilja Trojanow. Ilija Trojanow: Ilija. JP: Ilija Trojanow. IT: How you pronounce Trojanow does not matter but Ilija is important because the additional syllable makes it into a completely dif ferent name. JP: The other German-speaking author from Bulgaria that I know is of course Elias Canetti. It is remarkable that you should have what was originally the same name. IT: It is remarkable because it is not the just the same name and the place we come from. We both left Bulgaria at the age of six and another strange thing is that we both first spent time in an English-speaking country and learnt English before we learnt German. That makes English our second language. And we both ended up at one time or another in Vienna and we are both interested in power. Thus, there are several things that we have in common, although obviously he is a completely dif ferent author in other respects. JP: On the subject of language: what has always interested me is this decision in favour of German instead of English when you came to write or in the case of EisTau/Melting Ice, your most recent book, even Austrian, as there are some Austrian expressions in it. Why don’t 4 ILIJA TROJANOW AND JULIAN PREECE you write in English seeing as you first went to an English-speaking school? I find it marvellous that you chose German, but it does not seem an obvious thing to...

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