1. What question are you asked the most frequently?
How does one pronounce ‘Szczurek’? People usually remember me as the one with that weird name and hardly ever get it right. But I don’t mind. I know they mean me.
2. What is the question you dread being asked about Invisible Others?
It wouldn’t be very wise to give it away here… Officially, I don’t dread any questions about the novel.
3. Invisible Others is your first novel and at first you wanted to publish it under a pseudonym. Why?
People engaged in criticism often misinterpret their own role in the literary community. I wanted to avoid having to deal with those kinds of frauds, but I realised that a pseudonym wasn’t the answer.
4. Do you think being André Brink’s wife can count against you as a novelist?
Perhaps, but it will count against me with people who base their judgements on matters which have nothing to do with the real me or the real André, and definitely not with my work, so I can’t really take that attitude seriously.
5. You write about sex without the shackles of Calvinism. Are Polish women more open to talk about sex than South African women?
Not at all. My open approach to sexuality has nothing to do with my being Polish. Sexuality is such an essential part of who we all are; it is important to me to write about it as a lived, not only an imagined (and thus often distorted), experience.
6. In Invisible Others you describe Paris in a sensual and cinematically evocative way. Why are you so drawn to this city?
The story demanded being set in Paris. My role was to try to do justice to the city which has been written about so widely. I focused on the spaces which have personal meaning for me, like the Polish Bookshop.
7. You and your family fled Poland when you were still young. In what way has this shaped the Karina you are today?
In every way. A migratory background marks people the way gender, class and race do – it influences everything you do in life. We fled the then-communist Poland in 1987 when I was ten years old and settled in Austria where my parents still live. They wanted a life of freedom and opportunities for us. They certainly succeeded!
8. What is your favourite thing about South Africa?
Multiculturalism – it is what made me feel at home here the moment I stepped off my first flight to Cape Town a decade ago.
9. And your least favourite thing?
10. You and your husband André are both masterful tellers of love stories. Will you ever write about your own romance in fictional form?
If we ever did, our love story would not need the veil of fiction to be told. In a way we are telling it already, in bits and pieces of our non-fiction writing.
First published in Afrikaans in Beeld.