Sunday, September 12, 2010

You are what you read: Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai surprised observers back in 2006 when she won the Man Booker Prize for her novel “The Inheritance of Loss,” becoming the youngest female writer to ever be seen as worthy of the award. The novel, a tale of migration, became available to Turkish bookworms last week under the title of “Kaybın Türküsü.” On account of the introduction of her work to the Turkish book market, we spoke with Desai about her adventures in writing.

Your novel opens with the Borges poem “Boast of Quietness.” Why did you select this poem as an epigraph?
This poem reflects the souls of the characters in the novel well. When you go to another country as a migrant, there are difficulties that you experience. The real important thing isn’t just your own story. There are many people’s stories like yours, and there are people who share the same fate, just as there are many books in a genre on library shelves. But you tell your own story. I selected this poem because it conveys similar feelings to readers. In the same way, when you look at the migration stories of Latin Americans and Mexicans, you can feel the parallels between all migrants’ stories. For this reason, Borges is a writer in whom I have a lot of trust in when it comes to conveying those feelings.

In “The Inheritance of Loss” you say that you tell your own story, your own “migrant experience.” How did migration and the feeling of “placelessness” and “nationlessness” affect your authorship? If you hadn’t ever migrated to the West when you left India at age 14, what kind of a life would you have had?
Being a migrant forces you to be creative because in one way or another you have a motivation, like to be successful. Your world and the environment you are in are changing, and this always makes you a more creative person. Staying in the country of your birth or living in another country … for example, it’s not just these two choices. Even if you live in the US, you may have even more different choices there. You can live like a hippie or be a very successful businesswoman. Choices are everywhere, no matter where you are. You choose your own life. For example in a family you can see that while one person chose to be a doctor, another wants to grow vegetables. These options are always in our own hands, they’re not bounded by the place we live in. But, of course, there is a light feeling of loss created by the migration feeling.

Full interview here Zaman

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