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Good Case for a Diverse Array of Contenders: At lunch with Anosh*!

Jan 2, 2012

Photo by Ryan Martis

As soon as the CX 751 jetliner took him off Bombay (that’s how he prefers to call it) to Hong Kong on his eventual destination Vancouver, young Anosh Irani ( pulled out paper to pen his first story!


Destiny beckoned the author away from one of the most crowded and chaotic spots in the world to the most livable and serene. He says he was too full of Bombay (as he still is) and needed to get out to a place where he could explore all that he had experienced. And fill all the gaps with his imagination!


Coming from a colorful story-telling Parsi family and having grown up in the action- packed suburb of Byculla, the Mumbai riots of 1993 weighed heavy on his gentle soul. The fermenting concoction was ready to explode. Vancouver was just the soil for his creative genius to germinate and blossom. Perhaps representative of “the city of no sadness”, an idyllic fantasy and dream city as in his book THE SONG OF KAHUNSHA.


PG: Did you have to be in Vancouver to realize your potential? And why Vancouver?

AI: I needed to get away in order to write.  A novelist has to be able to write from the inside and the outside.  Being away gave me perspective. 


PG: In what ways did being away from India/ Bombay facilitate your exploration and expression?

AI: It helped me realize what stories I wanted to tell.  The images and characters that haunted and inspired me remained.  The rest dissolved over time.


PG: In some ways Dahanu Road is, in parts, your travel into your family’s origins from Persia. Are we going to see more of Persia in your other works?

AI: I don’t know.  I certainly want to visit Iran.  But I feel for now most of my writing will be set in Bombay.  It’s my muse, my teacher, my nemesis.  Bombay is hard to shake off, once it gets into your blood.


PG: After themes from India and a glimpse into Persia, would there be a Vancouver some day?

AI: I wrote a play called My Granny the Goldfish that’s set in a Vancouver hospital.  That’s about as far as I’d like to go for now.  Vancouver gives me the peace of mind to write and reflect.  India is the inspiration; Canada is the canvas. 


PG: You are indeed one of the ‘many’ accomplished Indian origin authors in Canada. I can count Rohinton Mistry, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anita Rao Badami. Thanks to you all, do you see a distinctly emerging genre?

AI: I don’t see any genre, but I do see brilliant storytellers.  Starting with Rushdie.  And Mistry’s A Fine Balance remains, after all these years, my favorite novel.  What sets apart the Indian novelists from many others is the scope of their storytelling.  It’s epic; an entire universe is contained in one story.


PG: How diverse is your treatment of prose? Short stories, plays, novels, movie scripts, et al?

AI: Each story lends itself to a particular form.  One has to understand what each form does – its restrictions and the space it allows.  When a story comes to me, I don’t have to choose whether it would be a play or a novel.  It comes ready, fit for only that medium.  But in all of these, structure is very crucial.


PG: Are you also going to look at a more diverse canvas (other parts of  India) than the Bombay first-hand experience?

AI:  For now, there are enough Bombay stories to write three more novels.  And the city keeps changing, evolving, thus keeping writers like myself in a chokehold.


PG: Do you also experiment in Non-fiction?

AI: No, although I have written the odd book review.  I also wrote an article on the Taj terror attacks that was published in the New York Times.


PG: You are very young and already well-acclaimed. How would you like to evolve as an author?

AI: By taking risks.  When there is no risk to the storytelling, no gamble, the writer is as good as dead.


PG: Last but not the least, what would you like to be best remembered for? Not just another non-resident writer??

AI: It’s too early for anyone to remember me.  One has to be recognized first.  So there’s only one option: create without fear.


By taking risks and creating without fear coupled with a humility laced with Persian subconscious, Bombay passion and British Columbian air; Anosh* is for sure destined to greatness. There’s a good case for a diverse array of contenders claiming credit for his success!!!


* Literally, Nectar/ Immortal, in Persian.

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One Comment
  1. Maneck H. Dastur. permalink


    You have well crafted the luncheon interview on paper. What really struck me in the interview were his words “Magic Reality”. The way he has taken us through the dusty pathways of Dahanu mingled with the actual incidental story, garnishing it with the need based fantasy to bring about this Magic Reality. It is this Magic Reality which diffrentaites a novel that you cannot put aside from another which is good literature, but does not have the spark to kindle your curiosity. It is this Magic Reality that does the trick in selling a million books and placing the author on a launch pad to success.

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