I write to make sense of the world and to make sense of my own, often contradictory emotions and feelings. There is a line in my first novel, Bombay Time, where a character thinks, “Some days he felt as if his head were a globe. . . all of history distilled into his own life.” I probe my own life—with all its dents and bruises and its moments of grace and beauty—to understand the human condition. It is always my hope that by writing as specific and honest a novel as I can, I can illuminate some aspect of human behavior for my readers.
One of the things I tell my writing students is that the bar for fiction is higher than the bar for real life. What I mean by that is that events that readers will accept in real life—bizarre, unusual, astounding happenings—they will not believe in fiction, unless the writers sets it up in a certain way. And so I try hard to make sure that my novels are grounded in the psychological reality of their characters. Above all, I want my work to have emotional integrity.
A book is an interplay, a dance that only comes alive when there are two partners—the writer and the reader. It takes an astute and sensitive reader to turn a novel into a three-dimensional, living thing.
I invite you to dance this dance with me.