Writers just want their novels to be read twice: Manu Joseph
Factors ranging from bestselling lists to literary awards can very well establish an author’s worth but all that a writer wants is for his work to be read more than once, says Manu Joseph, a journalist and author
New Delhi: Factors ranging from bestselling lists to literary awards can very well establish an author’s worth but all that a writer wants is for his work to be read more than once, says Manu Joseph, a journalist and author.
“All a writer wants is for the whole world to read his novel twice. Whenever a book is appreciated or features on any award shortlist, a writer is happy presuming at least the jury read his book more than once,” the journalist writer told PTI in an interview.
Joseph’s second novel, “The Illicit Happiness of Other People” is among the 15 works longlisted for the fourth edition of the USD 50,000 DSC South Asian Literature Prize, whose winner is set to be announced at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2014.
“I am really happy about the assurance that the jury will read the book at least twice. I also hope that one day I will be able to convert all my novels into films,” he said.
Joseph’s book is set in Madras in the 1990s, where every adolescent male is preparing for the toughest exam in the world.
The book revolves around a story involving an alcoholic’s probe into the minds of the sober an adolescent cartoonist’s dangerous interpretation of absolute truth, an inner circle of talented schizophrenics and the pure love of a 12-year-old boy for a beautiful girl.
The seventeen-year-old protagonist, Unni has done something terrible. The only clue to his actions lies in a comic strip he has drawn, which has fallen into the hands of his father Ousep, a nocturnal anarchist with a wife who is fantasizing about his early death.
Ousep begins investigating the extraordinary life of his son, but as he proceeds closer to the truth, he unravels a secret that shakes his family to the core. The author who already has awards like Hindu Literary Prize and Man Asian Prize in his kitty believes that it is not an easy deal to turn an author from a journalist.
“Most journalists who turn to fiction end up writing some kind of activist fiction. This is at once unnecessary and probably even destructive in talented writers. Destructive because activist literature gets appreciation anyway even if it is third rate prose unlike a story that is uncorrupted by politics and ideology,” he said.
“So, such writers usually do not know when they are writing rubbish, or even if they are leaning on ideology and politics purely to hide their mediocrity. So that is a big trap into which journalists usually fall,” Joseph added.
However, the author says he believes that there might be multiple factors keeping journalism and fiction writing apart but the only thing that unites journalism and fiction are ‘facts’.
“From a technical point of view journalism trains you very well for different types of writing but it does not teach you how to control and master the voice and the eye of a character,” he said.