Tabish Khair - Quick take

Tabish Khair - Quick take

Tabish Khair - Quick take

Born in 1966 in Ranchi, Tabish Khair grew up in Gaya, and did his Master’s in English from the local Magadh University.

He worked as a reporter with a newspaper in Delhi before moving to Copenhagen, where he pursued his PhD. His first collection of poems was My World, and his first novel, An Angel in Pyjamas, both of which were published while he was in Delhi. His other notable works include Where Parallel Lines Meet, a collection of poems, and novels Babu Fictions, The Bus Stopped, The Thing About Thugs.

A winner of several awards and accolades, his books have also been nominated for several prestigious awards including the Encore Award (UK), DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the Man Asian Literary Prize. His latest work of fiction, Jihadi Jane, is drawing rave reviews. He teaches English at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and lives in a village off the town of Aarhus.
Excerpts from an interview:

What is the last thing you read that touched your heart?

Stoner by John Williams. I came to it late, and read it only some weeks ago.

What does it mean to be a writer?

The endless yearning to see a little deeper, know a little more, write a little better.

Any place you prefer to write in?

Home, which means the place where I can see my children regularly.

Do you have a writing schedule?

No, but I probably would have if I were a full-time writer. As I have to teach for a living, I write when I can.

Your literary influences...

I do not believe too much in literary
influences, and mostly I think of individual books rather than all of the works of an author.

You grew up reading...

Almost everything available, but mostly it was stuff written before the 1970s.
What’s your current read?

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Any chapter of your life you’d like to rewrite?

No. I accept my failures with my successes. They belong together.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

It’s Not Over Yet.

Do you like music? If so, which genre?

Yes, I do. I used to like a lot of classical rock, but the older I get, the more I
prefer music where you can make out the notes and the words: Blues, Classical
Reggae, old-fashioned Johnny Cash stuff, some Country, good non-filmy ghazals, qawalis, bhajans, film songs, especially by Mukesh, Rafi and Kishore Kumar.

What are you scared of?

People who are convinced of being always right, either because they think they are so bloody smart or because they feel they have a direct connection to God.

Where do you draw inspiration for your writings?

Life. And life.

What keeps you awake at night?

Nothing, now that my children are no longer babies.

What are you most proud of writing — fiction or poetry?

I feel I started writing as I wished to write around the year 2000, and I am satisfied with both the fiction and poetry that I have published from that year onwards.

What about India fascinates you?


Your favourite cuisine...

I usually like traditional food, of various different cuisines.

What do awards mean to you?

More readers.

Could you describe life in two words?

It is.

A cause dear to your heart...

Basic fairness, not because existence is naturally fair but because we, human
beings, have the capacity to be fair.

Your favourite sport...

Slow, decent, useless Test cricket on a good pitch.

If you could change one thing about this world, what would that be?

I wouldn’t know where to begin! But generally I look upon both tradition and change with equal suspicion and find both equally necessary at the same time.

How would you earn your living if you had to give up writing?

Alas, I live in an expensive country and I am seen as a literary writer, despite the fact that I write highly accessible novels. I do not earn my living as a writer; I teach for it.