New York-based novelist Siddhartha Deb's book of narrative nonfiction, The Beautiful And the Damned: Life In The New India hit bookstores in India earlier this month. I quite enjoyed interviewing him over email, and this Q&A first appeared in print in the DNA Books page on Aug 28, 2011, though in a heavily abridged form for want of space. Posting here the complete interview.
What was the transition like, from fiction to nonfiction? Do you think of yourself primarily as novelist who also writes nonfiction or as a nonfiction writer who also writes fiction? Which form gives you a bigger kick?
The transition to nonfiction was difficult for practical reasons. I had to fund long stretches of reporting, and that was difficult at the beginning. I also had to spend a lot of time away from my very young son, and I didn't enjoy that at all. But writing nonfiction is easier in the sense that the boundaries are more clearly defined, and so it's harder to go wrong. If you're reasonably methodical, you can produce something that is, at the very least, acceptable. With fiction, there are no clear boundaries, at least for me, which means there are many more ways to go wrong but also a shot at transcendence, at magic, at creating life out of even nonsense, all of which I rather like. Since I'm desperate to return to fiction, let's take this book as a novelist's foray into nonfiction.
Full interview here DNA