Author of ‘Boats on Land’ and ‘Seahorse’, and winner of the Sahitya Akademi’s Yuva Puraskar and the Crossword Book Award for fiction, Janice Pariat will be present at GALF 2017. In an interview with NT BUZZ, Janice gives us an insight into her work
- Mainland India knows so little about the northeast. Does your 2012 book ‘Boats on Land’ with its 15 short stories based on the northeast interwoven as they are with the history of the region, become an effective guide to the average reader?
‘Boats on Land’ is my fictionalised version of a particular time in some pockets of the northeast. It isn’t a definitive guide to the region, huge, complicated, and multi-ethnic as it is, and I would be uncomfortable for it to be regarded so. If the stories intrigue readers, spurring them to want to know more, for me that’s enough.
- It is heartening to see an increase in the number of youngsters from the northeast studying in universities across India and seeking jobs and employment in metro cities. Do you think this is the best way to integrate the northeast with mainland India?
I think what would help, first and foremost, is to cease positioning ‘northeast’ and ‘mainland India’ against each other. Integration begins with language. Doesn’t it? How we think about an issue and pose our questions about it also matter. Also, is it correct to attribute integration to mainland India? Aren’t there as many fractures within that as well?
- In your novel, ‘Seahorse’ (2014) the protagonist is a Delhi University student. Does your having studied English literature in Delhi have anything to do with the theme? Could you tell us a little more about the book?
Not quite sure about the theme, but the north Delhi setting in ‘Seahorse’ was greatly influenced by my years as an undergraduate studying English literature in Delhi University. I drew on my college experiences, and also those of my friends, who lived on campus (because that’s what the protagonist does). The novel is a contemporary retelling of a Greek myth, the story of Poseidon and his young devotee Pelops. In ‘Seahorse’ these mythical characters are transported between (north) Delhi of the ’90s and London here and now.
- Your soon to be release book ‘The Nine Chambered-Heart’ is going to translated in multiple European languages. How does that feel?
Tremendously exciting. Mostly because I feel like it will be quite a different book in each language.
- What are your expectations from GALF 2017? Have you been a regular visitor to Goa?
Lots of literary conversations, meeting up with other writer friends, some sun, some sea. I’m a Goa regular, and try to visit at least once a year.
(GALF 2017 is free and open to all. It is advisable to register in advance at www.goaartlitfest.com)