Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hannibal Karthagos stolthet

Always a treat to out of the blue get a box of books that I appear to have written except for the fact that I can't read a word of them because they're in some foreign language. I'm not kidding, either; I have so little to do with the foreign editions that it's always a surprise when I actually get my hands on one.

The latest is the Swedish edition, published by Norstedts. It came at a good time for me, also. I'd just had a conversation with a white librarian here in Colorado Springs. She was very nice, but as soon as she found out I was an author she began to bemoan how black people in the city don't use the library enough. She was clearly saying that it was too bad that my people weren't readers, and assuming that my career and fortunes must be suffering for it.

Now, I certainly wish that African-Americans were reading more and reading better, but what bothered me about this interaction was that she assumed - without any knowledge of what my books were about - that my work would only be of interest to black readers. That assumption, unfortunately, is made all too often in publishing. Without a doubt, I want as many black readers as I can get. I want them to know that I'm writing for them, both when I'm writing novels about African-Americans and when I'm writing about the ancient Mediterranean or about a completely imagined world. But I'm also writing for a world audience, and fervently hope that it's possible to have both.

Getting this book from Sweden seems to suggest it is possible. Not a whole lot of black folks there, right? Or in Poland. Or Russia...

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9 Comments:

Blogger Gerry said...

David,
Hey... lots of good news here on your blog! Nicely done with the negotiation for the next book. I can't wait to read more about Acacia. Praises to the Giver!

Sorry to read about the runner-up status, but it looks like you had a good time... i saw some of the pix on Flickr and Yahoo.

Just picked up T.C. Boyle's A friend of the Earth... good stuff so far..

Okay that's it... PEACE!

5:34 PM  
Blogger David Durham said...

Hey Gerry,

Thanks for writing. Of course, for folks who haven't read the book it might make sense to note that Gerry's reference to the Giver is actually a reference to the god mythology of Acacia.

Yeah, there's a steady trickle (maybe a little more than) of good news to report. So, yes, Giver be praised and may he/she know that I am thankful each and every day.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Hello David,

Having recently read your book, I wish to thank you for a truly excellent read, and for bringing to life another aspect of Hannibal Barca that few think about when they think of the man - his personal life, how he may have thought, and what he may have thought. I have been interested in Carthage for a while now and I voraciously scour my local bookstore and the Internet for any new releases.

Mostly I look for factual accounts, such as Adrian Goldsworthy's books, or even Livy's The War With Hannibal (which I wouldn't really credit as a truthfully factual account). Your novel humanised these people who lived so long ago, brought a personal touch to a world long since gone. Thank you again.

Any chance of you doing anything else related to Carthage soon?

12:20 PM  
Blogger David Durham said...

Brian,

What a great letter! Thank you and I'm very glad you enjoyed Pride of Carthage. I did try to humanize the characters, hopefully to bring the history to greater life and make it accessible to people who wouldn't always read the historical texts.

You obviously do that too, though. I agree that Livy played loosely with the facts, but he's an engaging read, I think. He would've made a good novelist if he lived in our day and age.

Regarding other good books - have you read Nigel Bagnall's "The Punic Wars"? I recommend it. Found it to be well-research and readable and insightful, especially in terms of making sense of Hannibal's strategies and intentions.

And as for my returning to ancient Carthage... It's possible. I don't feel entirely finished with it, and I'm quite drawn to writing a prequel focussed on Hannibal's father, Hamilcar, and the First Punic War. There's tons of great characters and stunning events in that conflict too.

At the moment, though, I'm starting to turn my attention to the sequel to "Acacia". "Acacia" is an epic fantasy of sorts, although written to almost feel like a historical novel like Hannibal. It's not due out here in the States until next June. It's been picked up by a German publisher, but no word yet on if my British publisher is going to go for it. I hope so. I put everything I had into it.

Best,

David.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for the reply, David ^_^

I'm glad you're toying with the idea of doing something with the first Poenic War, or with Hamilcar specifically. It would be great to read about, in novel form, those immense battles at sea. You know, sometimes I wonder why there hasn't been more about Carthage in film... and then I realise the scope of it all and I understand the incredible difficulty of trying to relate the length of the first war, or Hannibal's exploits. So, it seems that books will be the best format for these stories for now. But that's no bad thing.

Another interesting subject might be (continuing with the Carthaginian theme) the third war ending with the destruction of the city in 146 BC. Peter Huby wrote a small novel based on the perspectives of several characters, and it was a good, if light, read.

I haven't read Bagnall's book, but I'll have a look for it. Currently I'm reading Batavia's Graveyard, by Mike Dash. It's quite good so far, but college doesn't allow me much time for reading these days. I'll see about picking up Acacia whenever I finish with Dash's book.

Take care!

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey David its Mike again,

Amazing cover, captures the moment I thought of a lot in the book. Really amazing how it captures the action!
About that librarian, don't worry! You will get a world audience... I mean look at me, I'm Lebanese-American!

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Sorrry for the repost I forgot to type my name in the top ^^

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Ken said...

Dear Mr. Durham,
Are there any Dutch translations of your books? Also you mentioned the movie option. Are any others optioned? Is that something you are interested it?
Ken

2:21 AM  
Blogger David Durham said...

Ken,

No, there aren't any Dutch translations of my books. I'd like to think I can add a "yet" to that sentence. I have been invited to the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands this spring. I'm happy to have come to their attention and I'm going, although I have to assume people there will likely have read my work primarily in English. Maybe being on Dutch soil will help spur interest in a translation.

As far as movie stuff... My Hannibal novel hasn't actually been optioned. There was plenty of interest when it came out, but there were also a number of ancient war films already in the works. Some of them, most notably "Alexander" did very poorly critically and commercially and put a damper on other similar projects.

My best movie hope has been and continues to be "Gabriel's Story". It's been under option for a couple of years now with Uberto Pasolini's Redwave Films. They've been actively developing it, have a screenplay and - as I understand it - are soliciting actors. It'll probably still be a long road and nothing is certain, but I've been encouraged by Redwave's lasting commitment to the project.

Would I like to see my novels made into film? You bet. It might be a great. It might be disappointing. I can't be sure, but I'd certainly love to go through the experience of it.

11:36 AM  

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