Smoking With Avital Gad-Cykman

Read the Story October 15, 2004

The repetition of “The mother washes the dishes. The father walks the dog outside” is really strong. Did you start the piece with a phrase specifically in mind or did it come about more organically?

The words came to me in an instance when I, as a mother, was acutely aware that while my children are a part of me, they also have a place inside their minds I cannot reach. And then, the worry: what if that space between us allows the existence of an auto-destructive world? It all sounds abstract, doesn’t it? It had to come back to the ground through routine activities: one which repeats itself, and the other that gallops toward destruction.

How has living in Brazil impacted your writing?

I started writing fiction a few years after coming to Brazil. It was a new way of communication, so maybe the relative isolation of a newcomer contributed to it.

How do you feel about flash versus other forms of writing?

I love writing flashes. There is a sense of freedom in it, because it emphasizes lyricism more than longer stories, and it allows you to get wild with one idea or emotion. The flashes I like reading have this and also clarity and focus, just like other types of writing.

You’ve been published pretty widely. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Oh, the one from the a lovely cartoon and my three-word bio in Happy. It shows a frog in a stork’s beak and says: “Don’t give up!”

Tell us a little bit about your novel in progress.

My novel Quero-Quero deals with emotional strife and survival and is set in Brazil. Quero Quero is a local bird’s name and it means I want, a yearning that lies as the basis of the story.

A family from Slum-City, Porto Beleza, is facing poverty and difficulties. Abandoned by their mother, the twins and their young sister are sent to different homes, where local stories of passion, love, and struggle entwine with the children’s. The story focuses mostly on Isabela. She suffers as she develops the resistance of a solitary person against circumstance. Yet, she challenges the low chances of survival that life has offered her.

I hope to publish Quero-Quero. I think people would enjoy it.

About the Author:

Avital Gad-Cykman lives on an island in Brazil. Her work can be found in Glimmer Train, Prism International, Stand Magazine, Other Voices, Happy, and AIM Quarterly among others, and also in easily googled online publications. She's thinking about adopting another dog and publishing a story collection and a novel.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.