TK by Christopher Thomsen hWell-known poet, novelist and critic Dr. Tabish Khair has joined the editorial advisory board of Singapore-based literary website, Kitaab.

As a member of the board, Dr. Khair joins the ranks of some of Asia’s illustrious writers and editors such as Dr. Amitava Kumar, Kunal Basu and Anees Salim.

Born and educated in a small town of Bihar, India, Dr. Khair is the author of various books, including the poetry collections, Where Parallel Lines Meet (Penguin, 2000) and Man of Glass (HarperCollins, 2010), the studies, Babu Fictions: Alienation in Indian English Novels (Oxford UP, 2001) and The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness (Palgrave, 2010) and the novels, The Bus Stopped (Picador, 2004), Filming (Picador, 2007), The Thing About Thugs (Harpercollins, 2010; Houghton Mifflin, 2012) and How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position (Interlink and Corsair 2014).

His honours and prizes include the All India Poetry Prize (awarded by the Poetry Society and the British Council) and honorary fellowship (for creative writing) of the Baptist University of Hong Kong. His novels have been shortlisted for nine prestigious prizes in five countries, including the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Encore Award, and translated into several languages.

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet
Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

What do you need to be a writer? In the past it used to be a pen. These days, obviously, you can do without a pen. In the past, it used to be a backbone too. These days you need a network.

As someone who has never had a network, I considered myself an oddity until I came across these lines in one of Charles Bukowski’s novels: “The worst thing for a writer is to know another writer, and worse than that, to know a number of writers. Like flies on the same turd.”” Now, Bukowski’s novels have an exaggerated reputation for realism: anyone who knows anything about women would take them with a pinch of salt. And a six-pack of beer. But I am convinced that when Bukowski talked about writing — or drinking — the man was dead honest.

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet
Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

One has to be cautious when it comes to announcements of books being adapted into films. A book might get optioned for film, announcements might get made but the making of a real film rarely follows them. Mohsin Hamid was lucky in getting Mira Nair to make a film out of his novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. So was Jhumpa Lahiri—Nair made a film version of her novel, The Namesake. But even Salman Rushdie had to wait for nearly 30 years before his most famous novel, Midnight Children, was adapted for screen. After many false starts, the film was finally made by Deepa Mehta and released in 2012. Similarly, a film is planned for Amitav’s Ghosh’s The Sea of Poppies (its screenplay is ready), and when Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger won the Booker Prize, a film was announced—apparently, Farrukh Dhondy was to write the screenplay. However, there is no news on both these films.

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet
Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

 

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

Good question! I wish I knew. It is either like a person breathing or an alcoholic drinking, depending on the day.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I have just finished a study of xenophobia. And I am finishing a novel on a very topical issue: the current rhetoric of jihad etc. The only way to find out what I had in mind while writing them would be to read them. Preferably, after buying a copy of each. Preferably, after buying two copies of each – one for your friend, one for yourself.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Is there one? Apart from good coffee?