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"Donna and the Fatman" - Interview with Helen Zahavi


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Helen Zahavi kaliber .38: Helen Zahavi, we don't know very much about you as a person. Could you tell us a little about your background?

Helen Zahavi: I was born and grew up in London. My father came to Britain from Poland and my mother's parents came from Odessa. I dropped out of college before finishing my education and spent some time drifting in and out of work. (Always as a temp, so one had at least the illusion of freedom.)

kaliber .38: How did your writing-career start?

Helen Zahavi: I was living in Brighton, a violent, windswept town on the south coast of England, and working as a Russian translator. One night I drew back the curtains in my bedroom and saw a man in the house opposite, staring down at my window. He began to phone me every day. Sometimes he'd be abusive, sometimes he'd keep silent. I felt completely trapped, completely impotent. Then one morning I woke up and something went "click" inside my head. I stared up at his window and thought: Why am I frightened of him? Why isn't he afraid of me? For the first time in my life, I began to imagine myself as a perpetrator, not a potential victim. It was liberating, cathartic, a complete change of consciousness. I began to write down what I wanted to do to him, and that became the basis of my first novel, "Dirty Weekend"

kaliber .38: You have published only three novels in nearly ten years. Do you spend much time revising your books?

Helen Zahavi: Yes.

Donna und der Fettsack kaliber .38: Let's talk about "Donna and the Fatman". How would you describe Donna and the world as she sees it?

Helen Zahavi: Donna is young, streetwise, cynical, sensual. She is the last of the class-warriors and she lipsticks on Henry's vandalised car her basic philosophy of life: Eat the Rich - Donna Bitch. Her world is a hostile, malevolent world, and she must keep moving if she is to survive.

kaliber .38: Your image of Henry, the Fatman - a protection racketeer and loan shark - is presented in very great detail, both mentally and physically. Are you fascinated by gangsters?

Helen Zahavi: I've wanted to explore the criminal mind ever since an ex-boyfriend won an argument by holding a gun to my head.

Dirty Weekend kaliber .38: In "Donna and the Fatman" you show us two different forms of violence: Henry uses violence as an end in itself. For him, brutality is a way of demonstrating his power. Donna and her lover Joe, on the contrary, use violence to gain revenge and they value it. Revenge is sweet - but how sweet is violence?

Helen Zahavi: Yes, revenge is sweet, and for some, violent revenge is the sweetest of all. There is a finality to it, a lack of ambiguity, that can be a great comfort to a soul in need. As Joe realises while he slowly garrotte's the man who held him down while he was raped: "They've always said revenge is sweet. But it's more than sweet. It's a creme brulee."

kaliber .38: You don't seem to believe in classical relationships. What's wrong with love-life in the modern world?

Helen Zahavi: The relationships I describe are rooted in fear, passion, rage and lust. To that extent, I think they are "classical" relationships.

Dirty Games kaliber .38: What are you working on at the moment? Can we look forward to a new Helen Zahavi novel in the near future?

Helen Zahavi: I'm working on another crime novel set in London, which I hope to complete within the next few months.

kaliber .38: Helen Zahavi, thank you very much for this interview. We wish you all the best with "Donna and the Fatman" and we hope the book will achieve all the success it deserves.

Helen Zahavi: Thank you, and best wishes to kaliber38.


Helen Zahavi: The Bibliography


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