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Verve People
July 07, 2016

Power Moment: Anuradha Roy

Text by Simone Louis. Image Courtesy: Getty Images

For winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 for her novel Sleeping on Jupiter

Her first novel, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, was translated into 15 languages all over the world and named one of the most essential English language works of contemporary Indian literature by World Literature Today. Anuradha Roy, riding the wave of success with just her third novel, writes with compassion when touching upon sensitive issues, using her lyrical prose to fashion modern views.

Artistic pursuits: “I feel a constant need to make something — if I am not writing, I make pots or I paint. When I am engrossed in the life of the characters or the ideas in a new story, the formula of a glaze or the shape of a mug, I feel involved and centred.”

On life influencing art: “I had stopped writing, except for reviews and articles, for all the years I worked as commissioning editor for literature at the Oxford University Press. The time went in trying to meet revenue targets and find new authors — if you are responsible for 50 books a year, you don’t have room in your head for much else. Although I was panic-stricken about losing my job, in the end, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. You have to be pushed off a cliff to know you can fly.”

Power possession: “My father’s typewriter — ancient, heavy and black — on which he taught me to type, change the ribbon et al.”

Creative process: “I function best in Ranikhet, where our house overlooks forests and mountains and you hear nothing but roosters, cowbells, children, leopards, owls, and occasional blood-curdling feuds between our neighbouring goatherds.”

Current reading list: “Raghu Karnad’s Farthest Field, Cees Nooteboom’s The Foxes Come at Night, and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.”

Writing routines: “I scribble into notebooks, write longhand sometimes and, other times, straight on my laptop. My brain and limbs seem to be connected — once I dislocated my elbow and couldn’t write at all…I can’t write by dictating. I need to actually type or scribble for the ideas to come.”

She wishes she’d written…. “Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.”

Adapting one of her books to film: “It would have to be An Atlas of Impossible Longing.”

Greatest infuence: “The dogs with whom I live; they’ve got life figured out.”

Read about our next power woman, Monali Thakur.

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