He then explains how he paired this incident with a similar one in the modern protagonist’s own life. The concept is a key to the novel's deep psychological explorations. In everyday life, how often do we lure other people to betray their own best selves, or best principles, without realizing that we're doing so? Do we do it in love? (Think about that a moment.) In business? In politics? The novel prompts us to question our own assumptions of innocence.
Nathaniel also relates the book to “the intense crisis we’re in today,” with issues of “foreignness, immigration, otherness.”
This is a cogent and thoughtful interview.