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Drunk on Ink Q & A with Madi Sinha and ‘The White Coat Diaries’, a novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

Madi Sinha is a writer and practicing physician who loves the nervous system, bookshops, tea with milk and snarky conversation (but not necessarily in that order). She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. The White Coat Diaries is her first novel.

About The White Coat Diaries

Having spent the last twenty-something years with her nose in a textbook, brilliant and driven Norah Kapadia has just landed the medical residency of her dreams. But after a disastrous first day, she’s ready to quit. Disgruntled patients, sleep deprivation, and her duty to be the “perfect Indian daughter” have her questioning her future as a doctor. Enter chief resident Ethan Cantor. He’s everything Norah aspires to be: respected by the attending physicians, calm during emergencies, and charismatic with his patients. And as he morphs from Norah’s mentor to something more, it seems her luck is finally changing. But when a fatal medical mistake is made, pulling Norah into a cover-up, she must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the secret. What if “doing no harm” means putting herself at risk?

SONIAH KAMAL:  First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

MADI SINHA: I was a huge Nancy Drew fan as a kid.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Tea with milk.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (RIP) because it will remind you of what really matters in this life.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

Anna Karenina.

Favorite quote from your book 

“In fact, the entire academic establishment of the time seemed convinced that a female was too dainty and fragile a creature for the gritty practice of medicine. I like to think that I salute all the women who came before me by standing here, right now, with my gloved finger inserted up this elderly man’s rectum.”

Favorite book to film? And why?

A Room With a View by E. M. Forster watch trailer here. Both the novel and the film are pure joy.

 Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Inkwood Books in Haddonfield, NJ

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

Honestly, how much I’d enjoy it. I’m used to thinking of myself as a science person, not an artist, and I wasn’t sure I was well suited to a life with more art and by extension, more vulnerability, to it. As it turns out, I love it.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

This is my first novel, so I’m not sure, but I do hope it gets easier. Ask me again in 2022.

 Dog, Cat, Or?

I’d love any pet, but we’re at capacity right now. I can’t even handle the added responsibility of a houseplant.

 Ideal vacation?

Somewhere warm, on a beach, with minimal company, a library, a breakfast buffet, and abundant childcare.

 Favorite book cover?

The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya (RIP)

 Favorite song?

This Life by Vampire Weekend

 Favorite painting/ work of art?

The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins. It used to hang in one of the campus buildings of the hospital where I did my residency before it was sold to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I love it so much, it makes an appearance in The White Coat Diaries.

The Gross Clinic

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

I’ve never been to a lit festival, but someone I work with told me she stayed up all night reading my book, and it was the best compliment of my life.

Do you have a favorite film, or two, or three?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is my all-time favorite. watch trailer here. I can’t watch it and not feel moved, even though I’ve seen it a dozen times.

(It is based on the short story by James Thurber). 


What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? Why?

Sense and Sensibility (watch trailer here) is my favorite Austen novel and film adaptation. I’m a huge Emma Thompson fan.

 Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

Does Catapult count as small press? Their books are amazing.

 Last impulse book buy and why?

The Night Theater by Vikram Paralkar. I heard the author was also a doctor from Philadelphia and I had to buy it. I was not disappointed; it’s a beautiful book.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more.
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

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Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

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