Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rajesh Parameswaran: An exciting new practitioner of the short story form

Rajesh Parameswaran is some cat. His book of short stories, which I bought for the college library a few months ago, is unlike any work I have read by young Indian practitioners of an art form made popular by some of the great writers, such as O. Henry and Raymond Carver (regrettably, when it comes to short stories and Indian writers in English, I am not able to recall the Big Names, though Manto comes instantly to mind if I think of regional writing, while our very own Anjum Hasan is an excellent representative of the youth brigade).

I was reminded of Parameswaran's book last night when I came across an interview with him in the latest issue of Open magazine. He says he is writing a novel now — one more book to add to our library, for sure — and he talks about how different writing a novel is from writing short stories, but, all the same, he remains a champion of the short story form, as is evident in this excerpt from the interview:

Q. Do you see the short story as a sort of testing ground for fiction writers?

A. No. I think that’s a little bit of a dismissive way to think about it. There are so many writers whose careers are [the short story] — George Saunders, Lydia Davis, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Munro. I think it’s a great form in and of itself. I still will write short stories. It takes less time to fail at a short story than it does at a novel. So if you want to fail a lot and fail quickly, as they say, then you can do that with a short story in quick succession. To me, that was reassuring. I did end up spending years and years at it, but I think the idea of spending six years on a novel and failing, at the time was, to be honest, more than I was willing to risk.

In the interview, Parameswaran also talks about how reading influences his writing and what he does to combat writer's block. Read the article in its entirety here: "The Carburettor".

And you can read The Hindu's review of I Am an Executioner here: "Beyond the Pale".
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