|Anjali Joseph, photo by CJ Humphries|
Anjali Joseph is the author of the new novel The Living. She also has written Saraswati Park and Another Country. She has worked for The Times of India and Elle (India), and she lives in India.
Q: In your new novel, you focus on two different characters, moving back and forth between them. Why did you decide to combine their stories into one novel?
A: I always knew both these characters would be in the book, so although that made for a slightly odd form, I just accepted it. A lot of writing a book for me is listening to the idea that comes, and finding out more about it over time.
Q: How did you decide on the book's title, and what does it signify for you?
A: The title of the book was a title of one of the chapters, and my Indian editor, V K Karthika suggested it as a possible title. I liked it.
I think it connotes several things, including making a living, which is one of the big subjects of the book, but particularly the question discussed in that chapter, which is whether one should feel more compassion for the plight of the dead or dying, or for those who still have to live.
Q: One of the characters, Claire, lives in England, and one, Arun, in India. How important is setting to you in your work?
A: A term like “setting” implies that the same life could be transposed between different places, but as we know from our own experience, that’s not the case.
The place in which you live, the weather, the people you know, the things you see everyday – these are woven into everything about your life, they make its texture.
Q: Do you know how your novels will end before you start writing them, or do you make many changes along the way?
A: I usually do seem to know the ending, but other things change along the way.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on another novel, provisionally titled Keeping in Touch.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I don’t think so, off-hand. Thank you, Deborah.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb