An underwriter by day and a writer by night, Pratap Reddy writes about the angst, agonies and occasional ecstasies of new immigrants. ‘Ramya’s Treasure’ is his first novel, having published the short story collection Weather Permitting & Other Stories with Guernica Editions. Here are excerpts of the interview with Can-India News.
How would you like to introduce your latest book to your readers?
“Ramya’s Treasure” is a novel about immigration and immigrants’ aspiration. The uniqueness of this novel is that it is about life as seen through the eyes of an immigrant from India who is a down and out single woman, separated from her husband not so long ago, and recently laid off from work. It is journey of self-discovery as Ramya tries to crawl out of her unenviable situation to seek some purpose in her life. It’s a story written with both sympathy and humour.
What distinguishes Ramya’s Treasure from your previous books?
My previous book, a collection called “Weather Permitting & Other Stories”, was about very new immigrants who find settling down in their new homeland fraught with challenges — like paucity of employment opportunities (and if they do manage to find a job it is often blue-collared, low-paying and in the graveyard shift),daycare being so expensive, bringing up children in an alien environment, and last but not least, the unforgiving cold of Canadian winters. But my new novel is about hopes and aspirations of immigrants who have lived in Canada for a few years, and their quest for self-actualization.
Is there a particular message you would like to convey?
First-generation immigrants straddle two cultures; when they arrive here they are in the midstream of their lives, and as such they have acquired a stupendous amount of skills and life-experiences. Their past in turn often defines their future. Ramya who is feeling lonely and despondent delves into her past to find the strength which will help her in reshaping her future.
How do balance your passion for writing with your full-time job?
A 64,000 question! But if there’s a will there’s a way, I suppose. However challenging and trying it is to write while holding a day job, one somehow finds the time and the stamina to do it. Sometimes you write when the rest of the world seems to have gone to bed, sometimes it is so early in the morning that not even birds have begun to serenade the dawn. When I was young I loved to read, and thought writers to be the most miraculous craftsmen, casting their spell over readers with nothing more than their words and imagination. I simply wanted to be one when I grew up. But it took me years and years to muster enough guts (and audacity) to attempt it. I did it at long last, and only after immigrating to Canada. Starting a new life in a new country and coping with the typical newcomer’s challenges gave me sufficient stimulus and subject matter.
What’s in the pipeline?
A writer’s mind is always whirring with ideas and plots, except for the occasional writer’s block which may seize you when you actually sit down to write. At the moment I have an anthology of stories in the making which needs to be grown to a book-length manuscript. I also have a germ of an idea for a novel, about a young Canadian of Indian descent returning to India and seeing the country with eyes, which are neither fully native nor fully foreign. – CINEWS