Shubha Sunder on Writing from a Place of Nostalgia for Home
This Week from The Common Podcast
Shubha Sunder speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “A Very Full Day,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Shubha talks about writing stories set in India, and how she built out the insular world of Indian retirees that “A Very Full Day” centers on. She also discusses teaching creative writing to undergrads, her revision process, and her forthcoming collection of stories Boomtown Girl, which won the St. Lawrence Book Award.
From the episode:
I was really writing from a place of nostalgia. I wanted to capture Bangalore, but not just because I wasn’t there anymore. I’ve found that I’m not really homesick for India or Bangalore when I’m here in the US, which is strange. When I’m most nostalgic is when I’m back there, because it’s so transformed. The place that I left is now unrecognizable. So I wrote from a place of that feeling. The collection really came together in the final stages of revision, when I was revising the book as a whole. Then it acquired a whole new meaning for me because I have a three-year-old son now, who is growing up in America and is going to be American, at least for the foreseeable future. And I was able to view the collection as something for him. This is going to be his way of knowing something about his motherland. But it does also feel for me like the end of a certain stage of my writing. I don’t want to write any more about Bangalore in this way. The novel I’m working on now is very much set in America, in Boston.
Shubha Sunder’s debut short story collection, Boomtown Girl, won the St. Lawrence Book Award and is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. She has published stories and essays in New Letters, The Common, Narrative Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, Catapult, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. Her fiction has received honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories, won the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize and Narrative “30 Below,” and been shortlisted for The Flannery O’Connor Award, The Hudson Prize, and The New American Fiction Prize. She is a recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and the City of Boston Artist Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at GrubStreet and at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Learn more at shubhasunder.com.
Emily Everett is managing editor of The Common magazine and host of the magazine’s podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.