One Minute With: Manju Kapur

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in a hotel room. There are windows looking out on a tree with no leaves, which for me is exciting. At home the leaves grow back straight away, so the trees are only bare for about 10 days. I like it.

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading a book by an African author – Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster. I've just begun it.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him

I like Cormac McCarthy; I've read two of his books. But I don't have favourites.

Describe the room where you usually write

For every book I choose a different location. For The Immigrant, this book, I went to the library at the Gymkhana Club. I'd sit in my favourite chair and write with my laptop.

What distracts you from writing?

Everything. There are the children, the servants, a thousand things to do around the house, and my job – I teach at the University of Delhi. It's a constant fight with my circumstances and myself.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I can't answer that – I'm a tortured, indecisive creature. I'm not attracted to reading about people like me.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Very complimentary. They say, 'This is so true to my experience.' I feel I've accomplished something if I've reflected the truth of their experiences.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

My mother. I based my first novel on her life. I admire her fighting spirit, her generosity, her capacity to endure. She irritated me when she was alive, but now I see these things more clearly. I think of her every day.

'The Immigrant', by Manju Kapur, is published by Faber & Faber