“Having had two children, and perfectly aware of how they came about, it’s not romantic or affectionate smooching that perplexes, but the formal, impersonal, performative variety, practised with relative strangers…” Please click on pic to read the whole article.
The Best Independent British Bookstore of 2018 (and regional winner before and after), Five Leaves Bookshop, interviewed me this week as part of a new online series on British authors. It was a wonderful half-hour chatting and laughing with the amazing Pippa Hennessy who plays a pivotal role for literature in the region, spearheading the campaign that brought Nottingham its UNESCO City of Literature status. In the course of the interview, I was asked to read from my HarperCollins collection of modern tales of the unexpected, ‘Strange’, and judging by the broad smile on Pippa’s face, it went down well. Please do watch the interview when it premieres on September 29th, and all the other fabulous interviews that are already out. Here, in the meantime, is a picture of us with Henry Normal, the BAFTA winning creator of popular British sitcoms like ‘The Royle Family’ and ‘Alan Partridge’, Oscar-nominated film ‘Philomena’ starring Judi Dench, and more, on a panel discussing writing. Henry Normal is another of the authors interviewed in the Five Leaves series. Please click on the pic to know more.
Completing twenty years in Britain led to some introspection on borders, nationalities and the ties that bind us to different places, which I poured into my monthly column for top Asian newspapers Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle last month. Please click on the picture to read more. The photos are of me when I first arrived in the UK twenty years ago (on the left) and now (on the right).
EC: What draws you to the strange, the surreal, the ominous and the macabre?
SSH: ‘Strange’ ideas come to me quite naturally, I suppose, because I’m neuro-atypical. To think within the constraints of convention or ‘normality’ is a stretch because my brain is wired differently. But I also feel that the mainstream that seeks to exclude those they perceive as ‘different’ is secretly not that well-adjusted or ‘normal’ themselves. That all of us have quirks and angularities that we deny, or are unaware of. I sympathise with both the overt misfits and the secret ones. I have empathy for those who find that life, and their own nature, and the lack of understanding from the world around them, have derailed their plans of leading a contented, conventional life. A ‘normal’ life. But as we acknowledge differences more and more, whether in sexuality or culture, or anything else, perhaps we see that there is no such thing as ‘normal’. My imagination teems with those on the margins for reasons of genetics, ostracization, illness, economics, and more, and in my work they find a home.
(Please click on pic for rest of the interview)
it is a haunted world we live in right now. Our deserted public spaces are peopled by wraiths, not just of those who have tragically died in the pandemic, but all of us who have retreated from the world, living a shadow of the lives we once did.
The homes of those who live alone or in unhappy domestic situations are echoing wells of loneliness, and maybe even fear. Even in happy homes, the ghosts of extended family and visiting friends can still be seen flitting around corners.
In their passing on from our lives, though not from this world, they have taken on an otherworldly sheen. Our home in Sherwood forest, where the past incessantly rubs shoulders with the present, is now infested with them.
At least, that was the (im)possibility we were forced to consider when, as the summer progressed and lockdown laid root, our nights suddenly filled with voices…
(Please click on pic for rest of story)