10 Books From Slovenia
Center For Slovenian Literature
“The True Story Of Victor Lustig”
“The True Story of Victor Lustig” is the American debut of Slovenian author, Veronika Simoniti, whose short stories have won numerous awards, including First Prize in LITERATURE, a European literary journal. Her debut collection, Storje (Lud Literature, 2005), was nominated for a national book award shortly after publication. Simoniti lives and works in Ljubljana.
Simoniti said this about the origin of her story: Two years ago, a friend of mine wrote me an e-mail, saying that he tried to resolve problems in dealing with difficult people not only with humor, but also by occasionally pulling a real scam. The word immediately aroused my curiosity and I went on the Internet, trying to find as much information about it as possible. And that was how I stumbled upon the great scammer Victor Lustig, a real person (1890-1947), who instantly won me over with his elegance and imagination. His greatest “achievement” was selling the Eiffel Tower in the first half of the 20th century – twice. He was also the designer of other brilliant tricks that we may find naïve nowadays, but actually worked in his time.
I came across Lustig right about the time when I was working on my second short story collection, Hudicev Jezik (The Devil’s Tongue). As the main idea behind the book was how to capture reality through language, its coded structures and vocabulary, and as I was trying to show that we can merely pursue reality in language, but never really capture it, Victor Lustig seemed like the ideal protagonist for what I wanted to say: he has problems with reality and is unable to distinguish between fantasy or lie and reality, his life giving the impression of being intangible and elusive.
I apologize to the real Victor Lustig for taking advantage of him like this for literary purposes and I hope that I managed to preserve his tragicomic duality. Meeting him, although in the virtual world, was one of those curious coincidences that happen to you as an author in a certain period when you are searching for new material to put in writing the topic that excites and preoccupies you.