‘We are not all written for one instrument; I am not, neither are you,’ declaims the narrator in André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name. That, says one New York Times critic, may be the ‘mission statement for Aciman’s entire oeuvre …’
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Egyptian-American novelist’s latest novel, Enigma Variations. Released last year, it explores the idea that character may be at once varied and enigmatic. In Aciman’s world, individuals discover new parts of themselves through wide-ranging romantic and sexual encounters across genders.
Aciman’s exploration of queer sexuality and all-consuming desire played out in his first novel, 2007’s Call Me by Your Name. The book has enjoyed a resurgence of interest, thanks to the Oscar-winning film by Luca Guadagnino, released last year.
At this event, Dennis Altman joins André Aciman for a conversation about life, love, lust and his recent brush with Hollywood stardom.
André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist and scholar of 17th-century literature.
Dennis Altman is professor of politics and director of the Institute for Human Security at LaTrobe University in Melbourne.
He is the son of Jewish refugees, and a writer and academic who first came to attention with the publication of his book Homosexual: Oppression & Liberation in 1972. This book, which has often been compared to Greer’s Female Eunuch and Singer’s Animal Liberation, was the first serious analysis to emerge from the gay liberation movement, and was published in seven countries, with a readership which continues today. (In 2012 University of Queensland Press issued a 40th anniversary edition, and an anthology based on the book, After Homosexual, was published in 2014.)
Since then, Altman has written 13 books exploring sexuality, politics and their interrelationships in Australia, the United States and now globally. These include The Homosexualization of America; AIDS and the New Puritanism; Rehearsals for Change; Gore Vidal’s America and Fifty First State?, as well as a novel (The Comfort of Men) and memoirs (Defying Gravity). His book Global Sex (Chicago U.P, 2001), has been translated into five languages including Spanish, Turkish and Japanese. Most recently has co-edited Why Human Security Matters (Allen & Unwin), Thinking Politically about HIV (Routledge) and How to Vote Progressive in Australia (Monash University Press). The End of the Homosexual? was published by UQP in 2013, and in 2016 Polity published Queer Wars (co-authored with Jonathan Symons).