From Iceland — Anuradha Roy: An Author Living In Three Different Realities

Anuradha Roy: An Author Living In Three Different Realities

Published April 3, 2019

Anuradha Roy: An Author Living In Three Different Realities
Phil Uwe Widiger

Indian-born novelist Anuradha Roy lives in a small cottage, surrounded by deep forest, in the Indian Himalayas with her husband and their three dogs. Roy has written and published four novels, often drawing inspiration for her stories from her own life.

The author’s needs

“The perfect setting for me to write is at home, at my desk, with a few warm dogs playing around next to me, badgering me to walk them—so I have the perfect excuse to stop working,” Anuradha says.

Ever since her mother gave her a blank notebook at the age of five or six, Anuradha was conquered by a passion for literature, and has never stopped writing.

“When I was fourteen, a newspaper began publishing my stories every now and then and even paid me,” she recounts. “So I have never been without writing—it is something I need to do.”

Up to three realities at a time

For Anuradha, novels provide the space to play around with different forms and ideas, and she cherishes the time needed to fully create the world in which the protagonists live, and of course the characters themselves.

“I discover the characters and the book through the writing of it, and I like to occupy unhurried years in this parallel world I am creating,” she explains. “I have always lived two or three realities at a time: a few that are in the books I am reading or writing, and another that is visible to people.”

A lifelong sense of betrayal

The author’s most recent novel, ‘All the Lives we Never Lived’, mixes history with fiction and several types of writing, such as translations from a travelogue from the 1920s and excerpts from memoirs. Published in 2018, the story revolves around Myshkin, a young man that is trying to come to terms with the lifelong sense of betrayal as his mother leaves him behind in search of her own freedom, while his father is fighting to free India from British rule in the years before the Second World War.

“I haven’t written a book of this complexity before: it combines many voices and times and is political as well as deeply introspective,” Anuradha explains.

Anuradha is visiting Iceland—a place she had imagined as “a kind of giant refrigerator made of ice blocks” as a child—for the first time for the Reykjavík International Literary Festival.

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