The Experience of Being European (1)

I started writing fiction in my early teens and now, when I have reached middle age and start to summarize my authorial experiences, I see underlying patterns in my stories.

I am a son of 20th-century Europe. The Cold War was an everyday reality for the first 30 years of my life. The society told my young self stories again and again about colonialism, decolonization, two continent-wrecking World Wars, and a lethal global influenza pandemic. I learned, without really thinking about it, what it is like to be a modern European:

Our continent arrogantly conquered the world — and lost it in humiliation

Our continent created the most advanced technologies — and used them to devastate our own lands

Our continent developed sophisticated philosophies — and let them excuse genocides

Our continent gave birth to human rights and parliamentary democracy — and then became home to the vilest tyrannies

Pride and ignorance have been our doom — our shame has been self-inflicted.

And yet, we are still around, humbled by our recent past. And we are building a 21st-century Europe that we hope will not repeat the mistakes of the 20th.

And those experiences seep into my writings without me thinking about it.

I write about flawed societies, about lethal conflicts — and about hope, about building something imperfect but better out of the devastation of war.

My protagonists grapple with the contradiction of barbarism within civilization. They join the side of cultured decency — and pay a steep price for taking that stand.

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