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A whirlpool of words
David Machado has a curious mind with a philosophical perspective and an unorthodox way of looking at life and the mysteries surrounding it. By Ramya Palisetty
Counted among the best emerging writers from Europe, David Machado feels that creative liberty can be justified when one is not restricted to any particular genre. “I have not only read books on various subjects but have also penned experimental literature — from Children's book, drama to short stories. I always try to put myself in the shoes of my characters, trying to see when and how they would react to certain situations.”He is familiar with the works of Indian authors — Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. He emphasised, “The authors who have been my inspiration keep on changing as time goes by. In my early 20s, South American authors exposed me to magic realism. Contemporary writers have an intrinsic relationship with the world which interests me.”
Machado, an acclaimed Portuguese writer was in the city for a discussion — Lazy Sunday of Literature along with 11 authors from nine countries at the World Book Fair. The Pragati Maidan ground was brimming with young readers eager to know the stories of European writers. For Machado, it was a fulfilling experience to meet people interested in his work belonging to a faraway land.
Author of various novels like O Fabuloso Teatro do Gigante (The Fabulous Theater of the Giant), Deixem Falar as Pedras (Let Talk the Stones) and Índice Médio de Felicidade (Average Index of Happiness). He has also penned some children’s books such as Os Quatro Comandantes da Cama Voadora (The Four Commanders of the Flying Bed), Um Homem Verde num Buraco Muito Fundo (A Green Man in a Deep Hole), A Mala Assombrada, Parece Um Pássaro (The Haunted Poem) and Acho Que Posso Ajudar (Looks Like a Bird and I Think I Can Help). Machado tends to incorporate endless perspectives in his work. “During my childhood, I used to read a lot and imagine my own stories”. Having a degree in Economics from Lisbon School of Economics and Management, the journey towards becoming a writer came naturally to Machado as he was always engrossed in books. “For a while, I liked studying the world through economics, politics and social studies. But after a certain point, I decided to pursue writing professionally.”
Talking about one of his books, The Shelf Life of Happiness translated by Hillary Locke, he disclosed, “I was always puzzled by questions like what makes an individual happy? Why are some people unhappy and why do I feel happy?” The protagonist, in the book, Daniel, goes through rough times over and over again due to struggling circumstances. He loses his home and job, the wife and kids move away, the car is severely damaged and he finds himself living in his old abandoned office building. The intention behind it was to see what would break the character and push him into an abyss. The story’s backdrop is weaved around Portugal’s economic crisis (2010-14) while it focuses on self-realisation and how hope can fuel the soul for survival. It compels the reader to look into their lives, be grateful for it and feel a sense of joy.
Machado feels that happiness is the way one feels satisfied and content with what life bestows them. Said he: “You can be miserable because you are leading a dead life and things are not working in your favour but it is not an obligation to feel this way as you have everything you need.” But people in the modern era always want more than they actually have. Desire complicates the way you view the society. “Accepting and acknowledging the fact that you may not get everything you wish for makes it easier. It is not a bad trait to be satisfied and content,” added Machado.
The themes for his forthcoming ventures are still being conceptualised. “I would want to write about the passage of time and memories in context of how today is different from 20 years ago and what has happened for this moment to arrive?”
Machado is inclined towards writing about terrorism which is prevalent in the society. “This subject worries as well as fascinates me. The events following an attack have immense consequences on a common man. He is unable to escape the fate decided by the lawmakers of the country and thus suffers in silence. The fear and prejudices engulf him into a vortex of despair and it is still a mystery of what keeps them going each and every day.”
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