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January 24, 2015

Zee JLF Conversations: Akhil Sharma

Text by Nittal Chandarana. Image courtesy Zee Jaipur Literature Festival

“When you’re young you spend a lot of time thinking about other people’s opinions […] but you can’t really control other people’s thoughts.”

Verve speaks to writer Akhil Sharma

On holding on to Family Life for 13 years and then leaving it to the readers
“It’s very strange. I don’t read my reviews and I don’t read the interviews that I give, so to me it feels like the book…I don’t know what’s happening with the book outside. I’m not really engaged with it so it’s strange to feel that the book is out in the world. I hope the book is good.”

On writing about his personal life
“It’s not something I really think about. The people that I interact with already know me so they already know this stuff. It’s not like I’m going to meet all my readers.”

On being labeled a ‘diaspora author’
“When you’re young you spend a lot of time thinking about other people’s opinions, which matter because they determine how you’re pitched, how you’re marketed, how many books you sell. It determines whether or not you’re going to win prizes…that matter then. Because if you want to earn a living, all these different things matter. But you can’t really control other people’s thoughts.”

On the most difficult bit to write
“It was all very difficult. I’m not kidding, it was all literally a war over every page. It just felt like that. But you continue because you began it…but you don’t know what to do. Once you’re inside, you don’t know how to get out of it.”

One genre he would steer clear of
“Cookbooks?”

On making time for reading
“I read all the time…I’ve been reading Zia Rehman. I would recommend it!”

On literary festivals
“They’re fantastic. You get to meet other writers, you get to meet readers, journalists… it’s amazing.”

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