Silas House, geb. 1971, ist ein erfolgreicher US-amerikanischer Autor, der auch als Klimaaktivist und LGBTQ-Anhänger in Erscheinung tritt. Diese Themen verarbeitet er auch literarisch, zuletzt in Lark Ascending, das mit dem Southern Book Prize 2023 ausgezeichnet wurde.
Interview with Silas House
1) The novel’s title refers to the famous composition The Lark Ascending (Ralph Vaughan Williams). What do the two have in common?
Both of them are capturing journeys. In that fourteen minute piece of classical music you can hear joy, sorrow, but also adventure, trepidation. That composition is a transcendent work of art.
2) How much did climate change debates influence your writing? And how likely do you think a scenario like the one in your novel will become a reality?
I fear that this reality is closer than we think, with climate change and the rise of fascism. So, I wanted to try to find some hope in that terrifying prediction. My main thesis was, if things do become this bad, what will carry up through? I believe if we can hold on to one little shred of hope, we can make it. And in this novel I found that hope can be conjured by witnessing the natural beauty of the world, by finding community and creating family, by retaining our humanity in times of crisis.
3) Speaking of community: Part of Lark’s makeshift family is the dog Seamus. Why did you choose an animal as one of the novel’s protagonists?
The novel has a quite dark premise, so it was important to inject some light and hope into the narrative. Seamus is a symbol of hope. He may or may not be the last dog in Ireland, so he gives hope to everyone who meets him. That life can go on, that things survive. He is certainly that for the main characters, Lark and Helen. To me, dogs are the epitome of goodness. And as far as we know they are not aware of their imminent demise, the way we are, so unlike Lark the dog is able to bound through the world without existential dread. He simply goes forward, content as long as he has food, shelter, and love. He’s certainly become a reader favorite.
4) How do you feel about your book now being read in the German-speaking world?
I am deeply honored for Lark Ascending to be in the hands of so many on the other side of the world from me. I have long wanted to travel into the German-speaking world and hope that can be a reality someday soon.