Lamar Herrin talks about House of the Deaf.
When I was director of Cornell University's Study Abroad program in Spain, I
did my jogging around the Parque Santander. A number of my students did,
too. Three or four years later, an American man running around that same
park was killed when a car bomb, planted by the Basque nationalist
organization ETA, went off before a Civil Guard headquarters. I couldn't
help but ask myself: What if that American had been one of my students? How
would I answer to the parents of such a student should they present
themselves before me?
In spite of Basque pressures for independence, in spite of ETA, Spain remains a charming country, with a ceremonial sense of itself that brings the Old World up to date and takes history out of the museums and puts it squarely in the streets. Then a bomb goes off and all that history gets ripped apart.
Spain has its dark side (Goya painted his dark paintings in a house called "House of the Deaf Man"), and the darker Spain gets the more powerful its pull might be felt to become. As a novelist, I wanted to see what might happen to a revenge-minded American, whose daughter has been killed, and to a second daughter who sets out to rescue him. The staging of House of the Deaf is the Spain of the Basques, but the urge to strike out against the ethos of violence that characterizes the times is, sadly, something all of us can relate to, and that deepening spiral of violence is what I want to depict here.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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