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June 12, 2016

Quick 5 with Anjum Hasan

Text by Huzan Tata

The author talks about everything from her childhood to fashion

In your works, is fashion important to the plot?
“Fashion can feature in my fiction; not as part of the plot but as something the characters grapple with — mostly in order to resist it. There is Firdaus in Lunatic in My Head, who ‘believed that she ignored fashion. She responded to its teasing, however, by random attempts at changing her status quo….’ And then Qayenaat, in my latest novel The Cosmopolitans, who ‘never wore anything she liked; it seemed to her too extravagant. She favoured baggy pants from another century, batik scarves and men’s shirts, too-warm leggings outlining too-plump legs, corduroys the colour of horseshit and khadi the colour of dishwater’.”

Have you had any childhood adventures or experiments with style like the characters in your fiction piece for Verve?
“I rarely write autobiographical fiction but this one is actually very close to my own childhood!”

(Read the exclusive short story here.)

How much of your writing comes from your own experiences?
“All writing comes out of experience, even if this is the experience of glimpsing a person’s face through a bus window or feeling what it might be like to live the life of your maid. But I don’t believe in drawing only on autobiography or putting my personal life on paper that easily.”

Which contemporary authors and genres do you enjoy reading? The last book you read was…?
“I am more and more fascinated by modern Indian literature, the bits of it that are available in translation. I recently read the works of Kannada writer U. R. Ananthamurthy.”

What are you currently working on?
“I’m just recovering from the recent publication of my novel The Cosmopolitans and hoping everyone will read it!”

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