Interview of Prathap Kamath
What are your outlooks and interpretations about literature?
I look upon literature as a justification of my life; it is the only thing that gives me complete satisfaction, in reading as well as in writing. It has consoled, encouraged, intoxicated, and taught me throughout in life. Literature, for me, is an imaginative way of interpreting life. It fulfils itself in finding an apt form that has something new in the way it tells about life everyone can feel as her/his own. I belong to the school that believes in the need of literature’s commitment to social reality. Its purpose shouldn’t be just to concoct stories or poems for the sake of getting published. It should germinate as the result of a felt existential need to say something deep about life lived in our times.
2. Tell us about your world beyond literature.
I teach English for Postgraduate and Undergraduate students at Sree Narayana College, Kollam, Kerala. I am also a Ph.D research guide with Kerala University. I am married and have two daughters doing their school-final.
3. Your book “Blood rain and other stories” is a combination of suspense, violence, corruption, revenge and selfishness. So, how much of the book is realistic?
All the stories in this book have been triggered by things that are happening and have happened around me. Violence, corruption, crimes instigated by revenge, and selfishness have become the defining features of the times we live in. I have tried to contextualize my events within the political/cultural scenario of Kerala so as to make my characters representative of a social reality. Their individual issues are made to spill into the social space and vice versa. It is in this sense that these stories can be called realistic, and not in the generic sense of the term ‘realistic fiction,’ for in the rendering of these stories I have, on several occasions, taken recourse to fantasy, and non linearity of narrative time.
4. What draws you to writing?
An unbearable sense of the meaninglessness of life, unless it is redeemed by the act of writing. I write to keep myself sane and from not falling into the pit of depression.
5. What genre do you like the most?
Fiction, both the short story and the novel.
6. Would you like to share your experiences while writing the book “Blood rain and other stories”?
It was written over a period of five years. The stories were written with long gaps in between. I am not a prolific or regular writer. I write only when I feel like. When I don’t write, I read the best in literature. I started my career writing in Malayalam, and Blood Rain and Other Stories is my first book of fiction in English. Writing in English was a refreshing experience; it lent me a greater freedom and ease to formulate my ideas in aesthetically gratifying forms. It was very exciting to have LiFi, my publisher, accept it for publication. I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Bina Biswas, Editor with LiFi, for linking me with the publisher.
7. Who are your favourite writers? What do you like the most about their books and creations?
I have many favourite writers, in Malayalam, my native language, and in other languages, all of whom I have read in English. To name them all would be impossible here. They belong to all ages, from the epic to the present. I have preferred European Continental and Latin American fiction to English fiction (British/American). The Japanese Haruki Murakami is the most recent favourite. I love these writers for the insight they give into reality through stunning forms.
8. Which books inspire you?
I am inspired by novels that are a blend of eye-opening world view, inventiveness of plot and language, and authenticity of details or information content. For instance, a novel like Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose or Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek or Herman Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund.
9. Did you ever face writer’s block?
Yes, several times. It leaves me depressed as it does with all writers. The best way to overcome it is to wallow in it, go deep into its morass, until it throws you back into writing on its own.
10. How has literature influenced your life?
It has influenced me by watering my imagination, in helping me create a cosy world of my own where I feel safe from the “thorns of life.” It helps me in expanding my sympathies, and understanding of reality. Above all, it gives me a solid purpose to live.
Thanks for the wonderful answers and giving your time. Wishing you a bright future.
Interviewed by Shivani Chauhan