In the conversation, the two talk about the distinctions between fiction and non-fiction, photography, wandering, urban culture, and more. The two are very illuminating and seem to have a natural sense of humanity they reflect off each other. Says Hemon:
"If we ever find ourselves writing only for the present—which would essentially mean that tweeting is all we can do—I would feel absolutely defeated as a human being and a writer."And Cole on cities:
"But the other side is that they are simply so congested with material history and the spiritual traces of those histories, including some very dark events. Your contemporary Chicago is haunted by the Chicago of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Chicago of innovation and of systematic exclusions."The whole interview is fascinating and more than worth your time. I will never be able to recommend Open City enough (until I read Everyday is for the Thief at least). For the Chicagoans out there, Hemon's The Book of My Lives is a great read as well. It encompasses stories from his childhood in Bosnia, to his immigration to Chicago. His early days in Ukrainian Village and Edgewater are a particular fun read (while still thought-provoking), and the final chapter about his daughter's illness is sobering.
Cole was born in Nigeria but calls NYC home now. Hemon refers to him as one of the foremost "bicultural writers" (for lack of better term). Whatever the term may be, Hemon is up there as well; I'm glad he's decided to call Chicago his adopted home, expanding the literary scope of our city with a unique perspective.