How to Write Like an Eastern European Writer Who Does Not Win Awards

Igor Rybak

First: Abandon proper grammar. This is your identifiable style. When you are questioned about it, defend it as a marriage of prose and verse.

E.g., Valentin woke from dreams of his homeland. Wife Anya already preparing tea. Her thick, blonde hair swept across shoulder in pale light of rising sun, a desert sand blown across her skin. Valentin writes in notebook: childhood memories built me a garden, nostalgia opened its gate. Anya pours two cups.

Second: Tell self-deprecating jokes, in a tone that mocks the self-deprecation.

Third: People must feel your deep sarcasm. Your patronizing feelings for Canadians should be apparent and when questioned about it, you must laugh it off as if it’s a joke, which it isn’t. Your interest in Canadian culture is only superficial and sociological, fodder for conversation rather than anything else.

Fourth: People must feel your pain, which you must look like you’re trying to hide, and which you express with deep sighs and unfinished sentences and comments like, You would not understand.

That’s about it.

Also, you should use a lot of erotic imagery in your writing and when you are called out on it by Jian Ghomeshi on CBC, tell him he is a prudish Canadian and that this country is backwards because brutal violence is aired on TV every day and no one notices, yet when an artist addresses the beautiful human form and the sensual relations between men and women that make up the fibre of life, people get nervous.

NB, your subjects are always heterosexual but you are tolerant of homosexuality. You are, after all, a writer and thus are liberal and progressive on such issues.

That’s it!

One more point: If you want to write like a Latin American immigrant, keep everything the same, except rid yourself of standoffishness.


Upcoming lessons:

How to sit at a desk like an immigrant writer
How to hold your pen like an immigrant writer
How to smoke like an immigrant writer

Igor Rybak is a silly man who writes serious stories.