After reviewing the book, Fresh Mint with Lemon recently, I had the opportunity to have the author do a feature guest post for my readers!
If you haven’t checked out the book yet, please do. It’s a unique, artistic love story which you don’t want to miss out on. Without further ado please welcome author Monika Zgustová to The Lit Bitch!
From the Author
Describe the book in your own words.
Fresh Mint with Lemon is a story of a love triangle. The three main characters, a man and two women, are extremely sensitive and full of regard for one another, and it’s hard for them to make decisions. For that reason, hardly anything happens between them: they talk and talk, but without really getting to know one another better because, at the bottom of it all, they are afraid to learn what the others might think. The novel, a light summer diversion that takes place during torrid July afternoons and sensual Mediterranean nights near the coast, is a story of longing for happiness, love, and tenderness, which seem to be unattainable. In place of these things there is eternal misunderstanding between three people with very different pasts.
Describe any of the major figures, personalities and characters within the book.
Vadim is a sensitive Russian man who is strongly attracted to Patricia—a well-known American painter—and later to Radhika—an American of Indian origins, and a feminist militant. Vadim lives most of the time in his dreams rather than in tangible reality, and this makes him extremely indecisive. He cannot get what he wants in life because he doesn’t struggle hard enough for anything. This isn’t a big concern for him though; he is happy in his expectations and in his longings. According to his philosophy, the path towards a certain goal is more important than achieving the goal.
How did you come up with the idea for the book? How did it come to be?
I read Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and was fascinated by the misunderstandings that words create between different people, as exposed in the section of the novel called “A Short Dictionary of Misunderstood Words.” I wanted to write my own book about misunderstandings between people who have different pasts or different cultural experiences. As far as the setting of the novel is concerned, I live on the Mediterranean coast, in Sitges, near Barcelona, so the location of the novel expresses my fondness for the place that has become my home.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
One summer night I was sitting with some friends in an outdoor café in the center of Barcelona and trying to decide what I felt like drinking. Then I noticed a sign on the blackboard with the café’s recommendations: “Fresh mint with lemon” was one of them. I thought it sounded very refreshing and summery, full of Mediterranean aromas and tastes. I thought of using the name of the drink as the title of my little summer book and shared my idea with my friends; they were all for it. We each drank a glass of fresh mint with lemon that night.
Birthday: March 22
Place of birth: Prague, Czechoslovakia
Are you associated with any causes or nonprofits?
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
What is your academic background? Which schools did you attend? What was your degree in?
I got my basic education in Prague. Then, in the United States, I studied comparative literature at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago. I got both my master’s degree and my PhD in this field.
Please list any awards or honors you’ve received:
- City of Barcelona Award for the Catalan translation of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier švejk by Jaroslav Hašek
- Catalan Letters Award for the translation of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier švejk by Jaroslav Hašek
- Mercè Rodoreda Award for my collection of short stories, Absent Moon
- Runner-up for the National Award of the Spanish Ministry of Culture for my novel The Silent Woman
- Ángel Crespo Award for Translation for the Spanish translation of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, and for my translation work in general
- Gratias Agit Award from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs for my work as an author and translator
Do you have a blog or author website? If so, what is the URL?