Quick Take: Sharanya Manivannan

Quick Take: Sharanya Manivannan

A fun chat with young writer Sharanya Manivannan

Sharanya Manivannan

She was born in Chennai to a Sri Lankan mother and an Indian father. She grew up in Sri Lanka and Malaysia, but came back to live in India in 2007. She is the author of five books, the award-winning short story collection The High Priestess Never Marries, two collections of poems, Witchcraft and The Altar of the Only World, a children’s picture book, The Ammuchi Puchi, and the forthcoming novel, The Queen of Jasmine Country, published by Harper Collins. Meet Sharanya Manivannan, the 33-year-old writer whose poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in several journals and anthologies. Excerpts from an interview:

What describes you best — writer or poet?

Writer of, among other things, poems.

When did you realise your passion for writing?

When I was 7 years old.

What are you most proud of writing?

The High Priestess Never Marries testifies to my late 20s, and contains all my heart’s truth from that period.

Do you have a writing routine?

Only when I have a deadline.

The source of inspiration for your writings...

Silences. Especially suppressed narratives.

What book do you wish you had written?

None. I’m happy to know beautiful ones as a reader.

Where do you write best?

With plants within my sight.

Your literary influences...

Vast, and not always from literature.

One person you admire...

Frida Kahlo.

Your current read...

Jeet Thayil’s The Book of Chocolate Saints.

How do you relax?

With music.

What keeps you awake at night?

Sometimes, sorrow. Sometimes, the absolutely reciprocal love of the moon.

What would you change about yourself?

I’d be less self-critical.

What novel would you give children to introduce them to literature?

It doesn’t matter which one — just let them know that there are whole libraries beyond that first book they fall for.

Your favourite place?

I love the hills but live in a city by the sea — so, perhaps, the truth is that desiring or wistfulness are my true homes.

Your most indulgent habit?

Online shopping.

What do you have on your desk at work?

I’ve just moved house, and am still setting up. My lap is my desk now.

What can’t you live without?

Food. I eat for pleasure, not only sustenance.

Would you swap jobs with anyone?

A pilot, because it would mean losing fear.

Your worst habit?

Licking my wounds.

A cause dear to your heart...


Five favourite things...

Flowers, rain, coffee, laughter, stories.

Your life as a writer...

Still exploring.

Any regrets?

I wish I had learned how to swim as a child. I hope to, some day.

Your most marked characteristic?


Your present state of mind?


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