Below are Saradha Koirala’s author interview answers. She discusses the classic precariously-stacked bedside table, how Tim Winton has “something spiritual and beyond human explanation hovering above his stories” and getting Uber Eats for Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and Olivia Laing.
Saradha will be in-store on Wednesday 7th November 2018, 12-12:45pm, alongside Nicola Easthope for a double poetry reading as they both celebrate the recent publications of their books.
ABOUT PHOTOS OF THE SKY
Saradha’s new collection, Photos of the Sky, starts with a declaration; ends in realisation. In between is a journey of reaching across the Tasman, shifting to a new home, reaching a place of disquiet and starting again. The full spectrum of emotions brings with it rain, sweat, tears, wildflowers and the promise of snow.
Saradha Koirala is a writer and teacher living in Melbourne, after relocating from Wellington. This is her third poetry collection, after Wit of the staircase and Tear Water Tea. She also published a novel, Lonesome when you go, in 2016.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?
Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf. It’s about the science behind reading and how it’s an absolute miracle any of us learn to do this at all! I discovered it through the magic of social media – a good friend rated it highly on Goodreads and then an article by Maryanne Wolf was going around Facebook. Anyway, I commented on the post that I’d been on the look-out for her book and the lovely folk at Volume in Nelson commented that they could order it for me. My mum lives in Nelson, so she picked it up and brought it over to Melbourne for me on a visit! How amazing is the internet, small town connections and air travel??
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?
My favourite writers change all the time, but I love Ali Smith. The way she writes young, curious, quirky characters in conversation is particularly charming, but I also enjoy the focus on structure and characterisation over action and resolution. You never really know where she’s headed with a story, but you just put your trust in her and go with it. There’s often a link to art and literature too – unexpectedly intellectual characters making puns and being comfortably awkward. I feel that.
Tim Winton is always a favourite too. How does he create those narrative voices? There’s often something spiritual and beyond human explanation hovering above his stories, even though they’re so character-based. He’s a master.
WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?
It’s a precarious stack as usual. There’s Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, which I was enjoying, but put aside when someone handed me something else. Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds – I absolutely love this! An essay on babies by Anne Enright, Working the Tang – which is Nicola Easthope’s beautiful new collection, a couple of New Yorkers and Bonsai: Best Small Stories from Aotearoa.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?
Trainspotting. It came out when I was at peak impressionability and it’s impossible to shake those ones, no matter how poetic you think you’ve become.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. There’s just so much in this book that I love: Jason, 1982, Yorkshire, playground dynamics, realisations about growing up, not understanding adults, blurred lines of reality. It’s one of my favourites to teach too, so I’ve been back to it several times.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?
Holden Caulfield has a special place in my heart.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?
I’ve never read Moby Dick. I wonder if I ever will…
WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?
Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and … Olivia Laing. I think they’d like her. Even if I couldn’t get a word in, it would still be fun.
WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?
It would be an Uber Eats occasion.
HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?
I have a giant bookcase that has travelled with me to Melbourne. It’s ridiculously large and divided into NZ Poetry, NZ Fiction, other poetry, other fiction, non-fiction! YA fiction has a separate bookshelf and I have a special space for books by friends too.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?
“Dismiss whatever insults your own soul and your very flesh shall be a great poem…” – Whitman.
Author photo credit: Jan Marsh