Q&A: André Aciman discusses writing ‘Call Me By Your Name’

Collyn Burke

André Aciman is a brilliant man of many things, all of which seem to work their way into his hauntingly beautiful writing style. The Daily Texan had the opportunity to sit down with Aciman and discuss his life, his loves, and of course, his books.

Aciman is the author of “Call Me By Your Name,” a novel recently transformed into a major motion picture. Wednesday night, Aciman will be doing a signing and brief reading at Bookpeople. 

Daily Texan: Tell me about the process you went through to write “Call Me By Your Name?”

André Aciman: We were suppose to be in Italy that summer and we decided not to go and I was frustrated. I happened to see a painting by Monet of a house in Italy and I fell in love with that house and I just started writing. I got out of bed and I just started writing about this house by the sea in Italy and the flowers and the garden and the veggies and the fruit trees of course, lets not forget that. One thing lead to another and within three months the whole thing was done.

DT: The book has gotten praise for its representation of a gay love story, was that an important element for you to add? 

AA: It depends on who the reader is. I will not make my mind up either, because I am just the author I’m the voice of the thing, it’s up to the reader to decide whether its a gay story or not a gay story. I don’t think I ever used the word love in the book. I don’t think anyone says, “I love you,” and I never use the word gay either. I find they are markers and they are heavy-handed words, which in a book that tries to be as cautious with the depiction of emotion using big words like that essentially fossilizes or calcifies the fact that some emotions are always malleable always change, always move. I’d rather have the reader feel that the story is resonating without knowing exactly what exactly is being resonated. 

DT: “Call Me By Your Name” is one of the most talked about movies of the year, what has it been like to see your story projected onto an even bigger audience than beforehand? 

AA: Part of me is vain enough to acknowledge the fact that it’s good to be respected that way. It’s the fact that I’ve written something that I thought was so personal. I wasn’t sure this was the kind of thing one liked. The story is about not being alone and finally feeling that you are like other people, and that other people are like you and that how I feel when I get all this acclaim, it’s like I’m not alone, people like me.

DT: What are your hopes for people that have read the book?

AA: I hope every father whose son comes out to him, that he will have the same reaction, and that he gives that speech. I want sons to feel like that is the parent that they want and that is the parent that they have to make happen. You have no idea that amount of emails I get from people in their 60s, 70s, saying, “I wish I had a father like that, it would have changed my life.” So that’s what I want, and I want people, if they feel some sort of desire they should acknowledge it.