Tania James is the author of Atlas of Unknowns, a "poignant, funny, blazingly original debut novel about sisterhood, the tantalizing dream of America, and the secret histories and hilarious eccentricities of families everywhere."
From a Q & A with James at the Random House website:
Q: You’re only 28, you have degrees from Harvard and Columbia and this is your debut novel. Have you always been an overachiever?Visit Tania James' website.
A: Until recently, one of my grandmothers was under the impression that I was on my way to becoming a Supreme Court Justice. Which is what I told her when I was ten, and ever since, she’d been cherishing an image of me as an Indian Bader-Ginsburg. So I guess I’ve overachieved in some respects, and underachieved in others.
Q: Your undergraduate degree was in filmmaking. What made you want to get an MFA in writing?
A: For me, college was a completely wonderful and unrealistic place where I could write short stories and make 16mm films, simultaneously, but I also became aware that if I never focused on one discipline at a time, after college, they would both remain hobbies. I decided to apply to film and writing MFA programs, and in the end, I was drawn toward writing. Looking back, I don’t think that writing was ever really a choice; it was the landscape I felt most comfortable in, the medium in which I felt most free to explore. But I can’t say that the multitude of film students in this city, hulking around their trunks of equipment, don’t make me nostalgic and jealous. Maybe that’s why I wrote about one.
Q: One of the (fairly insufferable and always hilarious) characters in Atlas of Unknowns, Rohit, is a filmmaker. Did you use your undergraduate experience to create this character?
A: I worry that...[read on]