Celebrated writer Anita Desai spoke with Joshua Barnes of Sampsonia Way about how she became a writer, her writing process, and what it’s meant to be an “exile” from her homeland while writing about it. Indeed, writing as a daily practice is inundated with multiple requests to engage and interact with fellow writers and readers in a way not known before, mainly because of the fluidity of communications available through the Internet. She also explains that in spite of our increased connectivity, we are nonetheless drawn to the mode of exile because of its impact upon both our ancestors and our present:
I’m interested in people who live in a kind of exile; it may not be political exile, but in some sense it’s exile from the rest of society. It may have something to do with my upbringing and my parents. My mother, having been German, lived most of her life in India and never felt able to return to Germany . . . But on a superficial level, by uprooting yourself, you experience the world from many different angles. On another level, it leaves you as an outsider for good. You’re always an observer rather than the participant, and that’s a big difference.
To read more of this interview, click here.
Two indelibly good writers, one magnificent conversation: Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, Anil’s Ghost, and The Cat’s Table, engages in a dialogue with Amitava Kumar, author of Nobody Does the Right Thing and A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb. Although they initially begin in a classic interview style, the back and forth of the Q&A slowly mutates into an easy conversation, perfectly apt given their setting amidst the 2012 Jaipur Literary Festival in India. Fortunately for those of us not able to fly into Jaipur, Guernica magazine has adapted and archived their conversation. Here is Ondaatje reckoning with the ‘bricolage’ of his work:
. . . I’ve tried in my novels to have various points of view, various speakers, various narratives, so it’s more of a group conversation as opposed to a monologue. But politically I also don’t believe anymore that we can only have one voice to a story, it’s like having a radio station to represent a country. You want the politics of any complicated situation to complicated in a book of fiction or nonfiction . . . I am still someone who’s very influenced by collage as an art form. The great writer Donald Richie who lives in Japan talk about the distinction between East and West: the Western novel is very organized, it’s very logical, there’s a logical progression, there’s a chronological progression, and there’s a safety in that. Whereas if you look at Japanese film, it is made up of collage or bricolage, it is made up of lists, and suddenly when you stand back from the lists you begin to see the pattern of a life.
Read more from Ondaatje and Kumar here.