Staying in with Maryam Diener

Sometimes the sound of a book is so intriguing that I can’t resist featuring it here on Linda’s Book Bag even when I don’t have time to read it. That’s the case with today’s guest Maryam Diener who, thanks to Grace Pilkington, is staying in with me to chat all about her latest book for the blog tour.

Staying in with Maryam Diener

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Maryam. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Thank you for inviting me to staying in this evening.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

 I have brought my latest book Exquisite Corpse which will be available from November 9th.

That’s an incredibly intriguing title. How did you choose it?

Usually the title of the book appears somehow in the process of writing but this time it was the contrary; the title occurred to me first before I even thought about the development of the story. It sets the shape , the rhythm , the connection. All was engulfed in those two words and decisive for shaping the book and interweaving the stories of women artists part of the Surrealist movement in both Paris and Mexico City.

That’s fascinating. Tell me more.

Exquisite Corpse which translated from ‘Cadavre Exquis’ the word game invented by the Surrealists inciting the participants to write freely without any connection to a word before or after. Hence creating a sentence from the juxtaposition of random words evoked spontaneously between the participants . Deliberately the book’s rhythm takes part in the game and brings together parts of the lives of these 5 female artists somehow not dissimilar when it comes to courage in pursuing their artistic careers.

It strikes me that Exquisite Corpse is somewhat a metaphor for life. What can we expect from an evening in with Exquisite Corpse?

From Exquisite Corpse you can expect a dreamlike journey, dipping into the minds and stories of five extraordinary and awe-inspiring women…

‘Waiting had its own sound and scent’

I think it sounds most unusual Maryam. What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I have brought a piece of paper and pencils so that we can have a round of Cadavre Exquis (Exquisite Corpse) while staying in. Let’s see if we can create something as surreal and beautiful as the artists from my book did.

I’m not especially artistic but I’ll definitely give it a go!

I have also brought a recipe from Remedios Varo who is one of the 5 artists. She is is originally from Girona, Spain. This is from Remedios Varo  Letters, dreams and other writings translated by Margaret Carson in 2018 Wakefield Press.


1 kilo horseradish                                        1 brick

3 white hens                                                 2 clothespins

1 head garlic                                                1 whalebone corset

4 kilos honey                                                2 false mustaches

1 mirror                                                        Hats to taste

2 calf’s livers

Pluck hens, carefully reserving the feathers. Set hens to boil in two liters unsalted distilled water or rainwater, along with the head of garlic, peeled and mashed. Let it boil on low hear. While the fowl are boiling, place the eastern bed northwest to southeast and let rest with the window open. After on half hour, close window and place red brick under the left0hand leg at the head of the bed, which must face northwest. Let rest. While the bed is resting, grate horseradish directly over broth, taking care that your hands are constantly steeped in the steam. Stir and let boil. Take the four kilos of honey and with a spatuala spread in the bedsheets. Take the hens’ feathers and scatter them over the honey-smeared sheets. Make bed with care.

My word Maryam. That’s quite a recipe. You’ve totally intrigued me about Exquisite Corpse. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about it.

Exquisite Corpse

In Exquisite Corpse, Maryam Diener transports us to the wildly creative world of the female Surrealists, gifted and powerful figures often marginalised by their male contemporaries. Known for seeing women as muses and objects of desire rather than artists in their own right, André Breton, co-founder of Surrealism, wrote: ‘The problem of woman is the most marvellous and disturbing problem in all the world.’ For him and his clique women were dangerous and alluring, but always ‘other’.

In a series of dreamlike fragments from the minds of five brilliant artists, Maryam Diener weave together the destinies of these half-forgotten pioneers as their lives intersect geographically and emotionally. This is the story of women who fought to prove their existence.

Published on 9th November 2021, Exquisite Corpse is available for purchase in all the usual places including here.

About Maryam Diener

Maryam Diener was born in Iran and attended the Sorbonne in Paris before receiving her Masters from Columbia University. She is the author of The Moon (1998), Sans Te Dire Adieu (2007) and Beyond Black There is No Colour: The Story of Forough Farrokhzad (Quartet Books, 2020). In 2012 she co-founded Éditions Moon Rainbow, a publishing company specialising in limited edition books on poetry and the visual arts including There Must Be Someone to Rewrite Love, which features contributions from Bei Dao and Francesco Clemente.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.