Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Q&A with Jennifer duBois

From my Q&A with Jennifer duBois, author of The Last Language: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I tend to feel pretty helpless about titles: I never know where they’ll come from, when they’ll appear in the process (if ever), or how they’ll be received. The phrase “the last language” was in my head a lot while I was writing, and though I can’t say it’s a precise reference to any single concept in the book, it did seem to generate several meaningful interpretations: the idea that Angela’s epistolary account of her relationship with Sam might be the last piece of language between them, and that Sam’s conversations with Angela might be the last connection through language he ever experiences at all; the broader (more optimistic) thought that whatever communion that existed between Angela and Sam—be it partly spiritual, subconscious, or sub-verbal—reflects the deepest form of language, the kind that will outlive all the particular tongues we know. Throughout the book, Angela is scouring global languages, hoping that their insights might illuminate the fundamental question that haunts her: does language predate thought, or the other way around? Maybe The Last Language as a title contains the suggestion that if she just finds the final language—whatever that is—it will contain the definitive answer. And of course I thought a million times while writing it that this book would probably be my last novel; I think all my books have had titles that in some way describe not only the plot/thematic concern but also the literary project at hand, and so for a time, calling this book The Last Language seemed...[read on]
Visit the official Jennifer duBois website.

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Writers Read: Jennifer duBois (June 2019).

Q&A with Jennifer duBois.

--Marshal Zeringue