Q&A: Geoff Dyer on new book Zona at 2012 Edinburgh International Book Festival

This article is from 2012

Q&A: Geoff Dyer talks to The List before coming to 2012 Edinburgh International Book Festival

In his latest book the all-round eclectician sets out to unlock Andrew Takovsky's movie Stalker

Give us five words to describe Zona?
My thoughts on Tarkovsky’s film Stalker [Ed: OK, that’s six, but we’ll let Geoff off].

Which author should be more famous than they are now?
John Jeremiah Sullivan who wrote Pulphead. He is a great stylist and thinker.

What do you love about book festivals?
The answer is all in that last word. I love festivals, period.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today and why?
DH Lawrence. To have met him, to have been overwhelmed by his genius and, inevitably, to have then been on the receiving end of some incredible eruption of rage.

What was the last book you read?
Richard RhodesThe Making of the Atomic Bomb.

What was the first book you read?
Can’t remember.

Which book makes you cry and why?
Oh wow, loads of them for different reasons. There are the tears of rage when books get praised when they're so obviously garbage. But then there are so many more that continue to move me: the end of Paradise Lost, ‘The Ruined Cottage’ by Wordsworth, Prospero’s ‘Our revels now are ended’ speech near the end of The Tempest. And it’s not just books; several scenes in Stalker leave me sobbing. Despite what Wordsworth says about thoughts that ‘lie too deep for tears’, I think tears are a pretty reliable indication of being in the grips of a profound experience.


  • 4 stars
  • 1979
  • USSR
  • 2h 41min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Written by: Arkadi Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky
  • Cast: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko

Tarkovsky's adaptation of the Strugatsky novel about the aftermath of an alien visitation. The stalker is a man who is prepared to act as a guide through the contaminated area, but the director uses the Zone as a locale of very human desires and projections. Visually splendid and intellectually provocative, Stalker is one…

Geoff Dyer: An Event About A Book About A Film…

If nothing else, Geoff Dyer is a polymath who likes to challenge himself. What other conclusion can you arrive at when he subtitles his latest book, Zona, as ‘A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room’? The film in question is Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker which Dyer uses as the starting point for a…

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