Jahnavi Barua: Author Interview

Family is very dear to all of us. But, what happens when you have been cast out of the family home? When we at thenotoriousreader came across Jahnavi Barua’s Undertow, we knew we had to know more about the book and the author.

Jahnavi Barua is a writer based in Bengaluru. Her first book, Next Door, a collection of short fiction, was published by Penguin India in 2008 to wide critical acclaim. The second, a novel, Rebirth, was published in 2010 and shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize. Undertow is her third book. She was awarded the Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship for creative writing in 2006. Her books are on the syllabi of many universities and her short fiction has been widely anthologized.

What inspires you to pick up your pen and write?

Telling the stories of the characters that live in my fictional world.

Can you please give us some more information about your book?

Undertow, my new novel, is published by Penguin Random House. It explores the ideas of home, belonging and unbelonging, family, and love in all its various incarnations.

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Can you please tell us more about the main characters of the book?

There are two principal characters in the book – a young woman called Loya and her grandfather, Torun.

Why did you choose to write about this particular topic?

The issues that I explore in the novel — identity, home, belonging, unbelonging, diversity, acceptance, and the place of family — are aspects of the human condition that have always interested me deeply, hence I chose to write about them. Coincidentally, they have become very relevant in today’s world, although when I was writing the novel over the last ten years I could not have anticipated that.

Why did you choose this particular genre? Will you be trying your hand at any other genre?

No, I don’t think I will be trying some other genre.

When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?

Hopefully, in a couple of years. I still haven’t thought about what it will be about.

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If not a writer, what would have been the career of your choice?

Medicine. I was a doctor, so I guess I would have remained one if circumstances had been different.

Can you tell us about your favorite author/ authors?

There are so many that it is difficult to name here. To name a few — Alice Munro, Kazuo Ishiguro, Amitav Ghosh, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, J M Coetzee.

What do you like to do when you are not busy writing?


Are there any words of wisdom that you would like to share with our reader?

To read as much as they can and as widely as they can.

You can read more about her book here.

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