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Smoking With Niranjana Iyer

(Read the Story) December 15, 2005

Niranjana Iyer

Art by Marty D. Ison

The squirrel emerges from this story as a key image, full of a metaphoric richness that’s thrilling to delve into and uncover all its meanings. What’s the squirrel—and the contrasting cats—mean to you?

I didn’t set out to make the squirrel a metaphor, it sort of happened along the way. I suppose it embodies the transformation of the familiar into the unfamiliar when we travel. The absolutely new is expected; it’s the mutation of objects and ideas we hold dear into unfamiliar forms that takes us back, for it reveals the possibility that much of what we ‘know’ is actually open to question.

“Rampant with astonishment and gratitude.” The ending exemplifies the arresting originality and sizzle of your writing. Natural? Or something you’ve worked to develop? And how can I make my prose similarly sizzle?

Thank you! Usually I mull endlessly over a phrase, working out what exactly I want to convey. I wish it came more easily! There are several writers whose prose I admire—Lorrie Moore and Alice Munro are among my favorites. I read and read and read.

What’s going to become of this couple? I’m haunted by the dim prospects for their future.

You never know—they might just do fine! I think they’ll sort it all out. And Canada is a good place to be…

Britain, India, America, and now Canada! How have these different residences influenced your perception of the world and your writing? What does one gain and lose by traversing the globe as opposed to remaining planted in one town/culture?

I think what one gains/loses is a very person-specific reaction—I’d hesitate to generalize. Speaking for myself—I get the luxury of being able to choose many of my allegiances, from four different cultures. On the other hand, I sometimes miss the feeling of certitude that would come with having a strong sense of ‘home’.

A new year approaches (yikes!). So, what’s the best that 2005 had to offer in literature, web sites, music, movies, television, DVD, and the like? Also, any predictions for 2006? And we’d love to hear your New Year’s resolution.

Ooh, I really liked the new Harry Potter. I can’t wait to find out how it’s all going to end.

About the Author

Niranjana Iyer has lived in Britain, India and the US, and is currently based in Canada.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This interview appeared in Issue Eleven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eleven

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