Since 2006, author Anjum Hasan has been writing poetry, novels, and short stories. Her latest book ‘A Day in The Life’ is a collection of short stories and the author has given us fourteen delightful stories. Each one gives us a different insight into human nature and that perhaps is why her writing is fascinating. In this exclusive chat with NewsX, author Anjum Hasan talks about this collection and more.
NewsX: Is ‘A Day in The Life’ a memoir of sorts?
Anjum Hasan: The collection features stories about all sorts of characters and one of those characters is me. So in two of the fourteen stories I appear – as myself but also as a fiction. It’s an attempt to use the memoir form but also to try and undo the self-importance of memoir. I am just one among the many people who interest me.
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NewsX: Philosophy also finds its way into some of the stories.
Anjum Hasan: Thought and thinking, day-dreaming even, does feature in the stories – the possibility that people have inner lives and that they are sometimes reflecting on slightly more subtle matters than how much money they earn and their children’s exams and what to cook for dinner. I don’t think any of my characters are philosophers but they are habitual thinkers and notices.
NewsX: A few novels and now why a collection of short stories.
Anjum Hasan: I’ve published three novels – Lunatic in my Head, Neti, Neti and The Cosmopolitans. And an earlier collection of stories, Difficult Pleasures. I oscillate between the long form and the short one. Many writers did it, from F Scott Fitzgerald to Qurratulain Haider, to name just two I like.
NewsX: Why does the ‘ordinary’ inspire you and attract you?
Anjum Hasan: The ordinary is the fount of some of the greatest art in the world – from French impressionist painting to American modernist fiction. Life is an endless iteration of the ordinary yet more and more we believe, perhaps inspired by Facebook or lifestyle magazines, that the extraordinary moment is what counts. The ordinary is also humbling, it’s the opposite of the need to be heroic, and heroics can often involve violence, as we well know.
NewsX: How much do your life and personal experiences influence your writing?
Anjum Hasan: One starts out aware of a distinction between life and writing but over time that distinction seems to disappear. I’m not sure anymore that I have a life separate from writing, not only because I spend a fair amount of time writing but also because I seem to be in the writing mode even when I am not writing.
NewsX: Short stories versus a novel – how do they compare to you?
Anjum Hasan: I do love writing short stories. The novel is harder, bigger, more painful and consuming form.