Treinta y seis preguntas rápidas para conocer mejor a Andreas Malm, autor de títulos como El murciélago y el capital (Errata Naturae), Capital fósil (Capitán Swing) o Qui apagarà aquest incendi? (Tigre de paper).
- What was the happiest moment in your life?
I know this is a cliché, but nothing compares to the moment when one’s children are born. Both times, the happiness was so intense it leapt dialectically into uncontrolled sobbing, and as the years have passed, I have come to realise that it was a completely justified initial reaction: nothing brings as much joy in life as kids.
- What’s your biggest fear?
That global heating remains unchecked.
- What’s your oldest memory?
I just read an autobiography of a wonderful Swedish working-class writer from the previous century, who claimed he had memories from his infant days. I’m exactly the opposite: I have very murky if any memories from my early childhood. I don’t think I can pick out one that is older than another. I’m sorry!
- What (living) person do you admire most, and why?
I admire people who do not give up in the face of unrelenting injustice and destruction. At the time of this writing, that means people at the forefront of the Palestinian resistance. Two days ago, they staged the first coordinated general strike in all of historical Palestine since 1936. What is there to admire more than such sumoud, or steadfastness? To continue to fight for liberation after more than one century of relentless settler-colonial encroachment and expulsion, and to achieve this newfound unity, from Nablus to Haifa, river to sea... This is not the deed of a single person, but of the cadres of the Palestinian people who just refuse to lie down and die. They should be a model for us all.
- What trait of yours do you dislike most?
My excessive sleep need. I have to get 9 hours to function properly. And I hate it.
- What trait do others generally dislike most?
Well my partner is no fan of my sleep need… But there are probably other dislikable traits too. J
- Where would you like to live?
If it had to be Sweden, in the very far north; that’s where I’d choose to live, unless it weren’t for my university being located at the opposite end of the country. If it could be anywhere, somewhere in the Middle East – best of all, in a free Palestine – although I’d remain prone to retreat northwards during the summer, as I have Arctic weather preferences. But then I also love Jamaica and Dominica…
- What historical period would you have liked to live in?
The period between the Russian and the Spanish revolutions. No other period is as chock full of hope and victory and defeat and grief, none so mesmerising: this was when the world teetered on the edge of a different future.
- What depresses you?
Very much about the current state of the world. For example, the pathological obsession with the supposed evils of immigration in countries such as my own. Here the political conversation has room for very little else than incessant demonisation of people who are not white. It is supremely depressing, and it gets worse year after year.
- Make a short list of your favourite books or authors.
Ah this cannot be a short list… J But I will single out one recent gem: The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, the best cli-fi novel written so far. Everyone who has any interest in climate politics and indeed the near future of the planet should read this book. These days I would also like to highlight the amazing recent stream of novels from – as it happens, all female – Palestinian writers: The Parisian by Isabella Hammad and Minor Details by Adania Shibli, both extraordinary literary masterpieces, although in very different genres; and to them could be added the novels by Susan Abulhawa. This is another form of resistance, and it’s immensely successful.
- Make a short list of your least favourite books or authors.
I’ve read a few from people on the far right in recent years, as part of a research project. That is a way of torturing oneself. American Crusade by Pete Hegseth is one example: just look at the cover and you get an idea of the level of pain inflicted on the reader.
- How do you organize your library?
- If you could be a fictional character, who would it be?
One of the traitors to the British state who helps climate refugees enter the country in John Lanchester’s The Wall.
- Do you have a favourite pair of shoes?
I very much do. My Red Wing boots. I wear them as a way to caress my feet.
- What’s your favourite smell?
My two-year-old son’s hair.
- What about your favourite food?
Persian and Lebanese-Syrian-Palestinian.
- Favourite drink?
Alcoholic? White wine these days.
- How would you define yourself politically?
Revolutionary Marxist. I am affiliated with the Fourth International.
- What do you like least about your appearance?
My hyper-pale skin.
- What’s your guilty pleasure?
Right now: reading Swedish working-class literature. I am a self-hating Swede who has never attached any particular value to anything Swedish (except for parts of the nature), so therefore it is with some guilt that I find tremendous pleasure in discovering the treasure trove of working-class fiction produced in this country in the early twentieth century – particularly its ecological dimensions (which are, by the way, wonderfully free of patriotism) and their effortless integration in advanced class consciousness. Not to mention the beauty of the best of this writing. But I have other guilty pleasures too…
- What do you owe to your parents?
- Who would you invite to your dream party?
Right now: all my 19 comrades in the Zetkin Collective, which has just released, with Verso, White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Dangers of Fossil Fascism, the product of two years of intense collective work – but because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to meet and celebrate the book. I am itching for all of us to get together for a real party.
- What words or stock phrases do you use the most?
“Bomboclat.” “Mashaallah.” Various nicknames for my partner. Imperative instructions to kids are also unavoidably in common use.
- Tell us about the most embarrassing moment in your life.
That question seems designed to preclude an answer! The most embarrassing moment of all I will save for very intimate acquaintances…
- If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?
Sometimes I think I should have partied more when I was a teenager and spent less time on serious politics.
- When was the last time you cried, and why?
It must have been when watching a film… I’m bad at crying unfortunately.
- What do you do to relax?
- Have you ever nearly died?
Well I was almost falling into a deep ravine when I was hiking as a ten-year-old, but my uncle caught and saved me. Maybe that’s the closest I have come. I’ve been in the danger zone on various fronlines in Palestine too, but not as in coming close to die really.
- Would you kill?
In very specific situations – notably armed anti-fascist and liberation struggles – yes. A “no” to that question is a commitment to transhistorical, universal pacificism, which I consider a morally untenable doctrine.
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The books I have published with Verso.
- What keeps you from sleeping?
Various forms of anxiety. Having stayed in front of the computer screen too late in the evening.
- What song(s) would you like to be played at your funeral?
Oh yeah! Songs by Sons of Kemet, Rebirth Brass Band, Staple Singers, Public Enemy… That sort of thing.
- Where do you wish you were right now?
In the West Bank. It’s not human to wish to be in Gaza, but if it weren’t for me having two small kids, I would get on the first plane and try to enter the West Bank and join the demonstrations there, again.
- What’s your most prized possession?
My library, no doubt.
- How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who contributed to the climate struggle.
- What did you do today?
I had breakfast, respondeded to some urgent emails and read parts of an article on land reclamation in medieval Holland and Italy, and then I did this.