Volume 1, No. 2, August 2014
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Welcome to the August 2014 issue of Writers in Conversation. After the success of the first issue earlier this year, we are delighted to publish our second collection of interviews with some of the most interesting writers at work today.
As in our previous issue, the writers brought together here are a wonderfully diverse collection: novelists, poets, academics, critics and translators from countries across the globe. This allows us to see world literature in microcosm: innovative, passionate, transnational and political.
Despite the variety of the writers, some questions and themes recur. Postcolonial literature plays a large role, as do accompanying questions of politics, race, religion, immigration and diaspora. By contrast, several of the interviews consider what literature is for and what it does, and look closely at how writers construct their work and at who their influences are.
We are also delighted that Professor Diana Glenn has allowed us to publish the wonderful speech she made at the launch of Writers in Conversation earlier this year.
We firmly believe not in ‘The Death of the Author’ but in the author’s paramount importance. We hope you enjoy reading the interviews as much as we did.Nick Turner and Gillian Dooley, Editors
From Volume 4, no. 1, February 2017 Writers in Conversation will be published in Open Journal Systems and this website will no longer be updated.
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ItemChristos Tsiolkas and the Ghosts of our Past( 2014-07-24) Christos Tsiolkas ; Taylor Johnson, HeatherWith the arrival of his first novel in 1995, Loaded, Christos Tsiolkas became a voice for a new generation of Australians. The book's main character, Ari - later made into the flesh by actor Alex Dimitriades in the film adaptation Head On - represented a young, gay Greek Australian man, angered by classism and racism to the point of self-destruction, and confused with his place in the world that surrounds him. This character would be reborn in many other men in Tsiolkas' books, as would these themes become the crux of his work. His other novels include The Jesus Man (1999), Dead Europe (2005; winner of The Age Book of the Year), The Slap (2008; winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and adapted into an award winning mini-series) and his latest book Barracuda (2013). He is a multi-talented writer with an autobiography and book of essays to add to his collection, as well as 'playwright' and 'screenwriter' to add to his list of titles. Often referred to by literary critics as our most controversial writer, Christos Tsiolkas lays bare what it means to be Australian, and in this interview I revisit what for me is his most controversial book, Dead Europe.
ItemBashabi Fraser, Transnational Writer, based in Edinburgh, Scotland speaks to Writers in Conversation( 2014-07-24) Purakayastha, Anindya Sekhar ; Bashabi Fraser ; Dhritiman ChakrabartyBashabi Fraser is a transnational writer who has lived in London, Kolkata and Darjeeling and now lives and writes in Edinburgh. She is a poet, editor, children's writer, translator and critic. Her recent publications include Ragas & Reels (poems on migration and diaspora, 2012), Scots Beneath the Banyan Tree: Stories from Bengal (2012); From the Ganga to the Tay (an epic poem, 2009); Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter (2006; 2008), A Meeting of Two Minds: the Geddes Tagore Letters (2005) and Tartan & Turban (poetry collection, 2004). Her awards include the Women Empowered: Arts and Culture Award in 2010 and the IAS Prize for Literary Services in Scotland in 2009. Her research and writing traverse continents, crossing borders and boundaries with ease. Bashabi is an executive committee member of the Writers in Prison Committee (Scotland) and the Poetry Association of Scotland and has been on the Scottish PEN committee for two terms. She is a Trustee of the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust, Associate Member of the Patrick Geddes Trust and has been a Consultant Advisor for the Kolkata British Council's Kolkata-Scotland Connection program. Bashabi is a Professor of English and Creative Writing and Joint Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (ScoTs, which she has helped to establish) at Edinburgh Napier University. Bashabi is also a Royal Literary Fund Fellow based at the University of Dundee. Bashabi Fraser spoke on her books and other issues to Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha & Dhritiman Chakrabarty for Writers in Conversation, when she came to deliver an invited lecture in Visba Bharati University, India in August 2013.
ItemDissecting Literature with Noted Bilingual Sri Lankan Writer Daya Dissanayake( 2014-07-24) Daya Dissanayake ; Sharma, SunilDaya Dissanayake - three times winner of the State Literary Award, given by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Sri Lanka, and of the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) Award 2013 - is a dissident who loves to demolish many beliefs incorporated through a colonial system into the native collective consciousness as the dominant ways of seeing the world. A writer of more than a dozen books of prose fiction and poetry, Daya has created a rightful place for himself in a highly competitive literary space largely determined by the western culture industry. In this e-mail interview conducted in March 2014, Daya gives a succinct exposition of his well-considered views on everything related to culture. His tone is marked by conciseness and an inner calmness that you can feel oozing out of the words in his responses, radiating a rare verbal clarity and tranquility, almost reminding one of a Zen master and their pithy remarks on complex issues of life. The first one to publish an e-novel and the first one to post it online for free access, Daya Dissanayake sets up precedents few peers will ever willingly follow.
ItemThey All Begin with an Idea: A Conversation with Andrea Goldsmith( 2014-07-24) Goldsmith, Andrea ; Dooley, Gillian MaryAndrea Goldsmith has published seven novels, most recently The Memory Trap (2013), and Reunion (2009). I had not met her before I visited her home in Clifton Hill, an inner suburb of Melbourne, to record this interview, but I had read her 2002 novel The Prosperous Thief with great admiration, and we had recently corresponded by email. She had written a very kind review of my 2003 publication of interviews with Iris Murdoch, From a Tiny Corner in the House of Fiction, so it seemed fitting that I interview her for Writers in Conversation. I sent her some questions a few weeks before we met, and these provided a loose framework for our discussion.
ItemIn Conversation with Professor Mohammad A. Quayum( 2014-07-24) Haque, Md Rezaul ; Mohammad QuayumProfessor Mohammad A. Quayum teaches in the Department of English Language and Literature at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). A gifted student of literature with an impressive academic record at universities both in Bangladesh and abroad, and a recipient of many awards and fellowships, Professor Quayum began his teaching career in 1979 by joining the Department of English at the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Moving on, he then joined the Department of English at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1992 and has since taught at a number of universities overseas. Professor Quayum chose to work on American Transcendentalism for his PhD at Flinders University in South Australia. Two of his books Saul Bellow and American Transcendentalism (2004) and Saul Bellow: The Man and His Work (2000) directly grew out of his doctoral research. Apart from American literature, Professor Quayum is also interested in postcolonial literatures, especially Malaysian and Singaporean literatures in English. He has authored and (co-)edited numerous important books dealing with many different aspects of Malaysian and Singaporean literatures written in English, and is considered one of the leading critical authorities on them. In recent times, Professor Quayum has turned his attention to translation and has already published translations of works by two of the pioneers of modern Bengali literature, namely Rabindranath Tagore and Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. He also has to his credit about fifty scholarly articles published in top-ranking peer-reviewed journals. Professor Quayum is the Founding Editor of Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature and has been co-editor of World Literature Written in English for eight years.
ItemI, the dark woman, in the trajectory of your consciousness: Indian born British poet Usha Kishore in conversation with Sutapa Chaudhuri( 2014-07-24) Chaudhuri, Sutapa ; Usha KishoreIndian born Usha Kishore is an award winning British poet, writer and translator and a well-known voice in contemporary Indian Writing in English. Usha now lives on the Isle of Man, where she teaches English in a Secondary School. Usha's poetry is internationally published and anthologised by Macmillan, Hodder Wayland, Oxford University Press (UK) and Harper Collins India, among others. Her poetry has been part of international projects and features in the British Primary and Indian Middle School Syllabus. The winner of an Isle of Man Arts Council Award and a Culture Vannin (formerly Manx Heritage Foundation) Award, Usha's debut collection On Manannan's Isle was published in January 2014 by dpdotcom, UK.
ItemBetween Nepal and Canada: In Conversation with Pushpa Raj Acharya, Edmonton's 2013-14 Writer-in-Exile.( 2014-07-24) Sayed, Asma ; Pushpa Raj AcharyaPushpa Raj Acharya is a poet from Nepal now living in Edmonton, Canada. He is currently a member of the Borderlines Writers Circle/Writer-in-Exile programme for the year 2013-14. His poems have been published in Canada, Japan, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. His poetry collections include Dream Catcher (2012) and Chayakal (2006). Chayakal or 'The Phantom Time' is a long Nepali poem that explores connections among myth, history, and literature in the context of Nepalese civil war (1996-2006) during which the communist revolutionaries fought with the state. Influenced by T. S. Eliot's idea of paying tribute to literary tradition, and his poem 'The Wasteland', Chayakal plays with some canonical Nepali works of fiction and poetry. Dream Catcher is composed of poems on nature and journeys - both inward and outward. From 1999 onward, Acharya was a part of a project called 'Conservation Poetry Movement,' which included travelling to villages across Nepal. The project involved a group of poets writing and reading poems with the villagers. Acharya has performed poems in the ancient streets of the Kathmandu valley. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta in Canada. In the following conversation, Acharya talks about Nepali literature and its place in world literature, and his journey as a writer. This interview was conducted face to face in October 2013; the conversation was then extended via e-mails from November 2013 to April 2014.
ItemLaunch of Writers in Conversation 2014( 2014-07-24) Glenn, DianaSpeech given at the launch of Writers in Conversation, 7 March 2014
ItemLight on Water: Conversations on Emergent Writing Methodologies( 2014-07-24) John Kelly ; Mona LivholtsMona Livholts is a critic, untimely academic novelist, and social science scholar based in Sweden. She is Associate Professor of Social Work at the Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Linköping University, and coordinator of the Network for Reflexive Academic Writing Methodologies (R.A.W.). Her publications include Emergent Writing Methodologies in Feminist Studies (editor) (Routledge Advances in Feminist Studies and Intersectionality 7); "The Professor's Chair: An Untimely Academic Novella" (Life Writing); "The Snow Angel and Other Imprints: An Untimely Academic Novella" (International Review of Qualitative Research); and "Writing Water: An Untimely Academic Novella" (in Documents of Life Revisited: Narrative and Biographical Methodology for a 21st Century Critical Humanism). In a traditional sense, this article can be viewed as an interview with Mona Livholts by John Farrell Kelly, focusing on Livholts's writing. However, one major theme in Livholts's work is how mainstream textual forms may dislocate ways of knowing, particularly by marginalised groups, and the need to explore ways of reshaping these textual forms. In light of this theme, we aspire here to gently reshape the traditional interview form in several ways. First, we invite readers to view this article as a coauthored, conversational piece - it was written through a series of email exchanges from our locations in Colorado and Sweden over several months. Second, we integrate modest amounts of creative writing, which is characteristic of much of Livholts's work. Third, instead of using a 'question and answer' approach, we organise this article into several sections with carefully prepared introductions by Kelly and responses by Livholts.