Manju Kapur’s 'Difficult Daughters', won the Commonwealth Prize for best first novel, Eurasia region. Kapur’s other books had the same fate: A Married Woman was shortlisted for the Encore Award; Home was shortlisted for the Hutch- Crossword prize; The Immigrant, shortlisted for the India Plaza Golden Quill Award; and the DSC Prize of South Asian Literature in 2010. Balaji Telefilms bought the rights to Custody and The Immigrant. Her most recent novel is Brothers. She has also edited Shaping the World: Women Writers on Themselves.
What is your writing schedule?
Ordinarily, I start my day with chanting, and settle into writing at 10:00 am. It is a bit different now because of COVID-19. Now I write in the evening as I don’t go anywhere. I don’t write many hours in a day, as I don’t wish to do it mechanically. I can do more hours when I am editing.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
I often approach writing with some kind of dread and I put it off as much I can, especially when I feel something is not working. On the other hand, if I don’t do it every day, I am so miserable, unhappy, as if I haven’t lived that day. I write a lot about women, their environment, what makes them, what breaks them and their overall situation in the society.
Writing advice you’d like to give your younger self ?
The answer is very simple, and the one I discovered very early on. You have to write every day. Doing it every day means you do not allow yourself to be in a space to be disheartened. A writer needs to learn to live with a sense of despair. Don’t give up, you will find your own your voice. The second thing: read a lot. Words are our tools and you have to see how these tools are used. I see many younger writers in India do not read much.
What are your favourite books?
I do not have a favourite book, as I am reading different books all the time. It will be unfair to pick only a few books.
Literary success vs number of copies sold?
My idea of success is to be on the shelf. As VS Naipaul once said, and I agree with him, that the test of a good book is its longevity. Suppose my book sells in a big way, but after 10 years if the book is nowhere then those initial numbers are not any good to me. I would call myself a successful writer if people would read my books and continue talking about those, even after I die. This is what I want.
Favourite spot/s in Delhi you write at?
I write in my study. It is absolutely beautiful. I designed it, of course with the architect. We had to create the space from another room. It has one wall of books. You go up some stairs and there it is, like a hidden world. Before I had this study, I used to write in the library at the GymKhana Club. When I started out, I used to write in my drawing room. My spaces have shifted.