What’s new and exciting in your life as an author?
Well, my most recent novel, The Death of the Cyborg Oracle, came out last November (2020) and this November the French translation will come out in France from Les éditions du 38. It is my first work in translation, and it is very exciting, especially with my love of French and French literature. Also, this December, an anthology I’ve edited will be released from Kernpunkt called The Celestial Bandit. It is a collection of tributes to a late 19th century French writer named Le Comte de Lautréamont. He was a brilliant, precocious weirdo who wrote two earthshaking books and then died mysteriously at twenty-four.
What is your connection to the American South?
I was born in New York, and I got to Georgia at age seven after four months in Spain and France (long story; memoir-type stuff), and even at that age there was some culture shock. I then lived in Atlanta until I was nineteen and went back to New York for my undergrad at Manhattanville College. So, I got here accidentally and wrestled with it and tried to make the best of it. I came with a real Northern snobbery. 1980s Atlanta was constantly trying to prove itself to the world. I tasted New Coke as a sample in Piedmont Park. This was the New South. But I have this distinct memory of being twelve in middle school and making a friend whose favorite book was Gone With the Wind. I asked him why and he said he liked the chivalry of the Old School. I was twelve in 1989 and guffawed. Those assholes owned slaves, I remember thinking. The most polite thing I could say was, “I’m not interested in any of that; the only good about the South is the Black South.” This is over twenty years before I’d teach Black Diaspora Literature at UGA. After high school I went back to New York for seven years, then came back to Georgia for a two-year MA in Religion at UGA, finished on time, and never left. It’s been eighteen years in Athens now.
How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer?
Well, living in a ragingly red state—until recently—but in blue enclaves like Atlanta and Athens has helped fuel the battle against political complacency I might have if I lived somewhere like Berkley or Burlington. Like anywhere, the South has given me a sense of place. And like Faulkner wrote of Mississippi, living here has helped me understand that we love not because of, but in spite of. When I think of Hawthorne or other early New England writers dealing with the shame and guilt of Native genocide as well as slavery, the South gave that to me: a more recent connection to the dark shame of America. In high school in the early 90s Flannery O’Connor and Southern Gothic was huge here. It still is it seems. So many hipsters naming their kids Flannery or Atticus these days. But to return to Faulkner, this is my home. It is the setting for three of my novels and several stories in my collection, Gristle. I met my wife here. My children were born here. To me, the South, Georgia, Atlanta and Athens specifically, is home and a truly multi-cultural, international, globally-connected place.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Next year will see the reissue, second edition of my first published novel, The Pit, and No Other Stories. It is my wife’s favorite of all of my books so I’m glad it will have a new second life. I’m also working on some plays and getting close to finally writing some screenplays. Maybe soon I will get to a sequel to The Death of the Cyborg Oracle. That world of Atlanta in 2220 has many more lives, stories, and mysteries to explore.
Visit Jordan Rothacker’s Amazon Author page here.