One Minute With: Neel Mukherjee Novelist

 

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Where are you now and what can you see?

In my living room. I can see my sleeping cat, curled up on the sofa, and, outside the window, a giant copper beech holding on to its last few yellow leaves. 

What are you currently reading?

Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days; Carole Satyamurti’s modern blank-verse retelling of The Mahabharata; Arnaldur Indridason’s Reykjavík Nights.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him 

Samuel Beckett. He lifted the skin of language and saw what was underneath and still continued to trade in words.

Describe the room where you usually write

I write at the kitchen table. It’s a clean, modern, minimalist space in an overstuffed, battered, shabby home: the walls are the colour of ripe Alphonso mangoes, the cupboards are grey and chrome, the worktop is a long L of black granite. Open the cupboards and you’ll find not the stuff that is usually kept in kitchens but books. It’s actually a study masquerading as a kitchen. There’s a cooker, too, to perfect the disguise. 

Which fictional character most resembles you?

No one, thank god! Also, I don’t go looking for myself in fiction.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution of India and the country’s most prominent, intelligent and tenacious fighter of one of its greatest evils, the caste system. India badly needs someone of his stature and integrity now. 

Neel Mukherjee’s novel, ‘The Lives of Others’ (Chatto, £16.99), is shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Novel Award

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