Thursday, November 22, 2012

V.V. (Sugi) Ganeshananthan

Vasugi V. Ganeshananthan, a fiction writer and journalist, lives in New York. She is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College. In 2005, she received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and in 2005-2006, she was the Bennett Fellow and writer-in-residence at Phillips Exeter Academy. In 2007, she graduated from the new MA program at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a Bollinger Fellow specializing in Arts & Culture journalism. She has written and reported for The Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sepia Mutiny, and The American Prospect, among others.

Her first novel, Love Marriage, was published in April 2008. Washington Post Book World named the book one of its Best of 2008. It was also longlisted for the Orange Prize.

From Ganeshananthan's Q & A with Jan Bowman:

Jan: I understand that you travelled to Canada and Sri Lanka to research your book. Can you tell us about the insights you gained from doing this?

Sugi: I was fairly relaxed in doing this; for example, I didn’t know my Canadian research was research when I was doing it. I went to Toronto with my family nearly every year as a kid, so I had a sense of what it was like to be an insider/outsider there, and to be stunned, as the protagonist Yalini is, at being in a place where there are so many people like you. The insiderdom you have dreamed of your whole life! So many Sri Lankans in Toronto! And yet they’re outsiders of a sort still: minorities, despite the numbers. And you—me?— as an American, are an outsider even among them. That remains a powerful experience for me, every time I go to Toronto, because I didn’t grow up with that sizable community around me, and never lived there, but inevitably feel a sense of crazy strength and closeness and love and debate there, and then there I am, just beyond its borders. Wishing I could have it, and also quite glad to be myself, to have been born in America. And so Yalini having been born in America really shapes her different sense of what it means to be a Sri Lankan Tamil hyphen-something. She travels to Toronto; she is in Toronto, but she is not of Toronto.

Jan: And could you say a bit more about the power of place in fiction, based upon your own writing and travel experiences?

Sugi: I’ve been lucky to meet Sri Lankan emigrants and their children in so many different countries. It’s not lost on me that this is the result of what were often very sad political and historical circumstances. So this is not only a different kind of traveling, but also a way of always and never being home. I find hotels really strange, and this is because so many friends and relatives have been generous about my staying with them. They’ve helped me to figure out how to belong to many different places, but we also frequently find ourselves discussing a place we are not in.

Perhaps for this reason—and I’m speculating—place is actually somewhat diffuse in Love Marriage. Yalini has a...[read on]
]Visit V.V. Ganeshananthan's website.

Writers Read: V.V. (Sugi) Ganeshananthan (July 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue