A 2paragraphs Interview with critically acclaimed author Roxana Robinson (and participant in this week’s Veteran Artist Program in New York City)
Q: As you were writing Sparta, did you ever wish for a minute that the title Cost was still available to you? (Robinson’s last novel, Cost, was a vivid portrait of destruction–but the story of war, courage, and loss she tells in Sparta tackles an even broader experience of devastation and waste.)
A: Good question, I did think about that other title. It’s true that in Sparta I’m also writing about cost, or consequences. But Cost was focused very closely on a family, and with Sparta I was dealing with consequences on a larger scale. So I wanted a title that would suggest a long reach, both historically and philosophically, to suggest both the national and the personal.
I’m interested by the idea of cost, and of consequences. These are particularly striking in the context of war, because there they can be so wide and so far-reaching. The war in Iraq was entirely unnecessary. It was based on false information, and many mistakes were made there of planning and execution. The costs of this unnecessary enterprise were enormous. The war caused unthinkable damage to the people of Iraq, to our American troops, to the American economy and to America’s reputation. Our veterans are still suffering from the consequences: 22 veterans a day take their own lives. I find this piece of our history tragic and devastating. As a novelist I can’t hope to change national policy, but I can bear witness to its consequences, and that’s what I’ve tried to do in Sparta.
– Roxana Robinson is the author of five novels, including Cost; three collections of short stories; and the biography Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Travel and Leisure, More, and Vogue, among other publications.