304 - Kamala Nair

Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)
Kamala Nair is the daughter of Indian parents, but she grew up in the United States, and these two cultures provide the background to her novel The Girl in the Garden, which was published in Italian by Editrice Nord as Una casa di petali rossi. Prior to working on the novel she went on a creative writing course at Trinity College, Dublin. We asked her whether such courses were useful for aspiring writers:

Kamala Nair (Standard American accent)
It absolutely helped me and I think the main reason is because it gave me the freedom and the space and the time to write. And I think any… for any writer having time to write is a true gift ‘cause it’s rare to be able to find that – and so, to have an entire year to just devote to nothing else but my writing was… was really invaluable and I don’t know if I would have even thought to write a novel or had the… had the time and the mental energy to undertake that project, had it not been for that course. I also think that it was really helpful because it’s very workshop-structured and I think to be a writer you really need to have a thick skin and you have to be able to accept criticism, and that experience really taught me how to have a thick skin because people aren’t going to sugarcoat anything, they’re just going to tell you exactly how they feel and you have to be able to take what they say and absorb it and take what’s valuable from what they say and use it, and then also be able to say, “OK, that was not valuable, I don’t have to use that” and you have to be able to decipher what to use and what not to use and I think that experience was extremely instructive for me. I don’t think it’s necessary for everybody… it’s not like every writer has to do it, but I think that, if you can do it, I highly recommend it.

It has been said that Ireland and India are two countries that have a lot in common. We asked her for her thoughts on this:

Kamala Nair
I think Irish history and Indian history are actually quite parallel and similar in many ways. And so I think that’s one… another part of me was drawn to Ireland, but just in terms of the people themselves I... I felt like everybody I encountered in Ireland was extremely welcoming and they were really interested to know that I was of Indian descent and they seemed to feel a sort of kinship for that reason, so it’s interesting.

We asked her for some examples:

Kamala Nair
Both countries were, you know, colonised by Britain and struggled for their independence and, you know, were very much underdogs in that sense and had a very difficult fight to gain their independence, so I think just for those reasons there are strong parallels in the history.

(Kamala Nair was talking to Mark Worden)