Indian writers who write in English have grown by leaps and bound. Added to this list is Pune-based Kailash Srinivasan who has come out with his first debut novel titled What Happened to that Love, a collection of 12 short stories which cover almost a range of human emotions and issues.
Set in India and Australia, the novel is a difficult genre, in Srinivasan’s words. A communications manager at an automotive design school, Srinivasan has completed his Masters in Creative Writing from Macquarie University, Sydney.
• What made you write this book and how would you define it?
I have wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember. I tried to get over it, but the urge kept getting stronger with every passing year.
Finally, I went to Macquarie University, Sydney, to do a Masters in Creative Writing. I wrote a lot during this period, which in more ways than one, helped in shaping me as a writer. This short story collection was my thesis. I would describe the book as a collection of stories that explores life, death, love, ache, greed, hope, destiny, alienation, fallacies, and the nature of rural and urban life, and the changes that come to us all.
• Is it fiction or partly based on your experiences?
Inspiration for most of the stories in the novel, just happened to come from the most unlikeliest sources. For example, there is a piece, Anytime Now, about an old couple. The story gives the readers a little glimpse into their life.
I happened to go for a stroll in Eastwood (where I was staying at the time), when from across the street I see an old man slumped on the ground. He was struggling to get to his feet. His wife was backing her car. She was about to hit him and I could see him panic a little bit. I bolted down the road and helped the man. The inspiration for Ganga, which deals with poverty came from a song I was listening to.
That line just struck a chord with me. Similarly, I was quite disturbed with reports of farmers committing suicides. Giver of Feasts is about zamindari system. Then, at the time the media was rife with reports on attacks on Indian students Down Under. Brownies sprung out of that. So not much of a personal experience, but rather a moving encounter or a strong image or something I heard on a train or a bus that has been the origin for most of the stories in this book.
• Any particular story which you have connected the most with.
I have enjoyed writing every piece in this book, but if I have to pick one, it would have to be Anytime Now.
• What makes writing special for you?
Writing for me is therapeutic. It is liberating. I can be what I can’t be in real life. At times, I find things about myself through my writing.
• Your take on the current breed of Indian writers in English…
There are some great books that are being written and then there are some atrocious ones. Some are selling millions of copies with absolutely no substance in their books and claim to be the voice of India. But in a way I don’t blame the so called “writers”, I blame those who buy such sub-standard, mediocre literature and read it.
• What sort of responses are you expecting for your debut book?
I expect my work to engage people emotionally, intellectually.
• Your favourite authors…
An incomplete list would be Junot Diaz, Raymond Carver, Chekhov, VS Naipaul, Salman Rushdie.