Keeper of words builds works of aspirational literature

I think it was a combination of not enjoying what I was doing then which was graphic design, finding that it wasn’t intellectually fulfilling and wanting to do something related to writing.

Published: 17th April 2019 08:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th April 2019 08:14 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Ahead of his first novel, Ib’s Endless Search for Satisfaction, by Penguin Random House India, set to be launched on April 18, Roshan Ali reflects on how he overcame a constant battle with self-doubt that crippled him and castrated all his beliefs, however, he always managed to emerge victoriously. His maiden novel is not just a body of words, but also a body mirroring his resilience.

I believe you dropped out of college. What made you do that? Was it daunting to leave formal education to chase the world of words? 
I think it was a combination of not enjoying what I was doing then which was graphic design, finding that it wasn’t intellectually fulfilling and wanting to do something related to writing. A year before dropping out, I had done a poetry elective and found that I was pretty good at it and not only was I good, I actually enjoyed it. These two things happening at the same time was quite a rare occurrence in my life and I took it as a signal that this was something. 

Could you take me back to the first time you started writing a novel, and then to the time you commenced work on this debut? 

The first novel I began to write was in 2008. It was an ill-disguised, horrendously written version of Ulysses (by James Joyce). And then once I abandoned that, began another one and abandoned that too. This happened 10 or 11 times. So I guess you could say this story began in 2008 but another answer would be 2013, which was the year the final version of this novel began with a character named Ib. I was never content with the style and it wasn’t until 2013 when I read
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow that I thought I should attempt a kind of picaresque novel and just copy Bellow’s coruscating, strange-rhythmed style. 

Is the character Ib like you? 
Yes, but he’s a little bit like everyone (I hope). At his centre, he’s just a baby thrust into this world, a boy thrust into adulthood, and an adult thrust into himself – in other words, he’s trying to know himself. 

What was the advantage of the literary fiction genre? 
It does not aim to please or lead or instruct or inspire – it is that which the writer writes without boundary, without censorship, without thought of consequence. 
How does being a debut novelist give you an edge over experienced veterans? 
This is a great question and explores something counter-intuitive. First, there is the element of surprise. Second, there is the luxury of not having to be that good, it is a debut after all and some leeway is given to roughness and lack of craft. 

It is believed that authors are socially inept, how true is that? 
I am socially inept but I don’t think it has anything to do with being a writer. I think I specifically have a problem with conversation fillers and saying things for the sake of continuing a conversation or avoiding awkwardness. Predictably this leads to awkwardness.

You made it, however, what advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?
If these struggling writers are anything like I was when I was struggling with this book, I would say: Don’t struggle – you’re suffering less than you think you’re suffering. Show your book to someone, anyone and get feedback. Chances are that it will be good. 

What are the challenges facing contemporary writers today? 
Most problems writers face today are the same problems writers have always faced: censorship, the pressures of groupthink, the pressures of certain political narratives, the challenge of earning a living through writing and thus achieving the independence that is crucial if you want to write true. 
 

Stay up to date on all the latest Books news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp