Narrative Essay Quarrel

Narrative Essay Quarrel-1
Naipaul’s work is never far from my thoughts—I think of him as one of the greatest novelists of the last century—but I don’t know why it should have been this particular novel of his which started pushing its way up to the surface from somewhere deep down in my self.

Naipaul’s work is never far from my thoughts—I think of him as one of the greatest novelists of the last century—but I don’t know why it should have been this particular novel of his which started pushing its way up to the surface from somewhere deep down in my self., I was thinking of writing something that would experiment with form; more specifically, with the elements that are normally considered crucial to coherence in the realist novel—such as plot, character, continuity—and thinking whether we could do away with all those and still have something that could answer to the name of “novel.” In other words, what if all the connective tissue was taken out—could a narrative still cohere by other means such as, say, metaphorical underpinnings, or meaning?At the end of the arc—to pursue the jumping metaphor—I wanted to land at a point where realism has been made to accommodate something that is its generic opposite, such as the ghost story, while keeping what is commonly understood as realist content intact. I wanted to continue the thinking about realism that I had begun with my previous novel, HY: I do think you’ve created a chimeric book, something that truly pushes the form into what one might consider a kind of molecular-level mutation of what a novel is.

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Hanya Yanagihara: Well, I suppose I’m going to begin with the obvious. Will you talk a little about how and why your novel is a response to his?

Your brilliant novel is—in title, structure, and fury—deliberately in conversation with V. One of the most salient features of literature as I see it is that all writing is a conversation with writing that has gone before.

There is another aspect, a largely unsung one, and that is the role of editors.

My editors tell me where I’ve left out too much, where I’ve “over-egged the pudding.” (Great term, no?

Could you talk a little about the different voices and linguistic patterns you used here for the different sections?

Also, I’d like you to tell me more about the allegorical quality of the book. and yet they also feel equally, completely rooted in a natural realism tradition. Also, I have a theory that the word “allegorical” is applied, lazily, to stories about poor, dark people living in circumstances that we in the West call “impossible” simply because we’ve never seen them. had to be written in a different style, a different voice.As for the allegorical feel to some of the sections, that is something surprising: I didn’t aim for that effect, so I would imagine that it is the surplus that good readers or intelligent criticism always adds to a text.But it was part of my project to gesture as subtly as I could to a world over and above and beyond the one that is “completely rooted in a natural realism tradition.” Your final point about a certain Western shortfall of imagination and understanding is one that could keep us here for ages; I don’t even know where to begin on that point.Being a writer from India has always already imprisoned me in a box called “Indian,” with all that that term and its associations entail.So, for example, no one is going to even think about experimentation with form when reading my work.Sections III and IV are stylistically simpler—or cleaner, if you will—on the surface than Sections I and II.Part of the reason for this variety is organically dictated by the material of the stories, the people and the social contexts and stations they feature, but part of it is also motivated by a desire for variety, to mark off distinct and discrete sections in what is a suite of narratives.What is a ghost if not a being in transit, a result of unsuccessful migration?What is a ghost story if not a narrative of an unsettled history? In India, more than any other country I know, that holds especially true. And you’re very right: nowhere but in India, perhaps, is one more aware that one (even as a visitor) is a participant in a giant, billion-stranded, millennia-old, contradictory plot—the entire country is a palimpsest, and it can at times feel that everything you’re experiencing is being written in sand, to be blown away within minutes or hours.How much did you struggle over the amount of connective tissue you wanted to include . Sure, I took decisions on a micro level about the joining and the fitting—the carpentry side of writing, which I enjoy enormously—and planned carefully the internal system of assonances, rhythms, echoes, resonances, repetitions on which the book depends so much.But writing, as you well know, is nine parts instinct, I feel; and I was fortunate in that the book fell into my head, structure and themes and all.


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