Nidhi Dugar Kundalia: Author Interview

White as Milk and Rice by Nidhi Dugar Kundalia weaves together prose, oral narratives, and Adivasi history to tell the stories of six remarkable tribes of India. It brings up a topic that we normally don’t know much about. So, we at The Notorious Reader decided to find out more about the book and the author.

Nidhi Dugar is a journalist. Her stories have appeared in various national newspapers and magazines. She mostly writes on socio-cultural issues, documenting human lives and their journeys through various settings. Her first book The Lost Generation: Chronicling India’s Dying Professions was released in 2016 to a warm reception. She is a graduate of the School of Arts, City University, London, and lives in Kolkata with her husband and children.

Can you tell us what inspired you to be a writer?

Most evenings of my childhood were spent in a library, a little haven that subscribed to magazines like The Atlantic and New Yorker, and had a great collection of classics and new releases.  I was a commerce student at a city college, unsure of my interests when an internship at a newspaper came along. Stories, travels, writing, and people have since been my passions.

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Please tell us more about your book.

My second book White as Milk and Rice documents stories of six tribals who still live in forests and hills, with religious beliefs, traditions, and rituals so far removed from the rest of the country that they represent an anthropological wealth of our heritage. This book weaves together prose, oral narratives, and Adivasi history to tell the stories of six remarkable tribes of India-reckoning with radical changes over the last century as they were pulled apart and thrown together in ways none of them fathomed.

Can you please shed some more light on the main characters of the
book?

Each story follows a single tribal, retelling his or her life story over the years, through various struggles, bringing forth the issues faced by their respective communities since independence.

Why did you choose to write about this particular topic?

Societal issues need various perspectives and re-telling with time so that people’s history and their narrative remains dynamic and rich. This book is a small endeavor to keep the stories of their lives- the tribals- alive, and relevant.

 Will you try your hand at any other genre?

I’m hoping to write fiction someday. And children’s books.

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

I’m still dabbling with the idea and will need lots of research before I go further.

What would you have been if not a writer?

A theatre artist.

 Who is your favorite author?

Micheal Ondantje, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, Charlotte Bronte and Albert Camus.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Splay myself on the verandah and watch the sky. Or play with kids.

Is there any message you would like to give to your readers?

Read. Books remain the deliverance for our base society.

You can read more about her book here.

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