The Three Rs: Anjali Joseph

December 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

Anjali Joseph was born in Bombay in 1978. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has taught English at the Sorbonne. More recently she wrote for the Times of India in Bombay and was Commissioning Editor for ELLE (India). She graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2008. Her first novel, Saraswati Park, was published by 4th Estate in 2010; it won the Betty Trask Prize, Desmond Elliott Prize, and Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Fiction in India. Another Country, her second novel, was published in June 2012 and has recently been longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.

When did you first know you wanted to write books?

Pretty much from before I could read. I remember being impatient to learn because everyone around – my parents, grandparents and older brother – read almost religiously, tuned into a book and lost themselves.

What does your day look like while you’re writing a book?

It depends on which stage it’s at. Early on, I don’t write for that long per day, maybe an hour or two. Later in the redrafting process, it might be several hours a day.

Do you type or write?

I type but tend to retype the whole of each of many redrafts after scribbling all over a printout.

What do you read while you’re writing?

It’s varied from book to book. For each there have been books I read and re-read. For my first novel, those included Madame Bovary, Amit Chaudhuri’s A Strange and Sublime Address, Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English, August, R K Narayan’s The Bachelor of Arts, Bibhutibhushan Bannerjee’s Pather Panchali, and Samuel Beckett’s Murphy.  For the second, they included Flaubert’s Education Sentimentale, Françoise Sagan’s La Chamade, and Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. And also things like Junichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Darkness, Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, Damon Galgut’s In A Strange Room and Jean Rhys’s first four novels, Quartet, Voyage in the Dark, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie, and Good Morning, Midnight. Recently I’ve been reading Peter Hobbs’s The Short Day Dying, and Tagore’s novel The Home and the World. The right books have a way of coming along. I’ve found myself wanting to read more verse lately.

What have you read recently that you really loved?

I loved The Short Day Dying. And a novel called Well by Matthew McIntosh. Also James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late, which I haven’t yet finished.

What are your all-time favourites?

I find myself going back to different Beckett texts and stories, recently the three Nouvelles – ‘L’Expulsé’, ‘Le Calmant’ and ‘La Fin’ for the way they use the first person to create something quite strange and wholly unconfessional. Also the Texts for Nothing.

You can either write or read for the rest of your life – but not both. Which do you choose?

Maybe I would just read and daydream.

What’s your third R, and why

Rumination. Not necessarily while actually chewing. Rolled-up cigarettes are also a good R.


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