Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Solo and striking

A conversation with Rana Dasgupta, whose Solo has been shortlisted for this year's Commonwealth Writers' Prize

The clink and tinkle of his piano keys steers my footsteps to the door, past a winding flight of narrow stairs. Author Rana Dasgupta, I have just learnt, is also a pianist. He later says he took lessons on the instrument from the age of seven.

Leaving Bach's “English Suites” half done, Rana promptly sits down to converse on “Solo”, his novel, which has just won the European and South Asian round for the Best Book for this year's Commonwealth Writers' Prize. In fact, we don't talk about the Prize at all, simply because he feels, “There is nothing to talk about it yet.” Rana has won one of the regional rounds of the Prize with Pakistani author Daniyal Mueenuddin. Out of the regional winners picked from different Commonwealth countries, the Prize would go to one lucky author on April 12.

Soft and measured
With the big day a good few weeks away, we steer clear of questions like ‘So how does it feel?' The conversation easily flows towards writing “Solo”, a Harper Collins publication — Rana's first novel and second book. The young author says, “I was glad when I finished writing it. I wanted it to get over.” Well, how do we take that! He explains, a soft, measured smile spreading on his face, “I feel stupid saying this but while writing a book, you have a very reclusive existence. You don't know what to tell people about what you are doing and yet you are living your days in a world made up of your characters. They are real for you.”

Full report here Hindu

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