Monday, September 6, 2010

I don’t want to write from New York, London or Delhi: Tabish Khair

Author and poet Tabish Khair left India at the age of 24. Born and educated in Gaya and today an associate professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, Khair rejects labels like ‘diasporic’ and ‘multicultural’. However, a keen awareness of his displaced identity is evident in his latest works, the novel The Thing About Thugs and his collection of poems, Man Of Glass.

In the latter, he takes the works of three writers from different eras — Sanskrit dramatist Kalidas, Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib and Danish writer HC Anderson — and makes them his own, in content and form. On a recent visit to Mumbai, Khair spoke to DNA about his literary preoccupations, his identity as a writer, and his relationship with the languages he grew up with.

How did you conceive of The Thing About Thugs
I had grown tired of the recent multicultural novel based in contemporary London. They make a claim of knowing the native, a claim I can’t accept. I had also done some reading about the thugees and felt that the British narrative on them was just one side of the story. There were lots of other stories that hadn’t been told. And I had a similar feeling about Victorian London. So the two combined to create this novel. Also, in some way, London of that time reminded me of the situation in India today in terms of the difference of wealth.

Full interview here DNA

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