Sampurna Chattarji's 'Dirty Love' is a sequence of stories set in the restless swirl of a Bombay where dream-shuttles speed through the rain and men fall prey to dirty love. Reeking of sewers, fish markets, slaughtered meat, and peopled with loners, misfits and drifters, these tales prise open the surface of everyday existence. We encounter a mother inexplicably estranged from her infant son, an Insectboy with a gift for fantasy, Night Rat Killers who prowl through the dark depths of the metropolis, and umbrellas that find refuge in their very own heaven. Gritty and surreal, tender and terrifying, these stories, together with the chorus of voices running through them, convey the energy and ennui that lie at the secret heart of modern urban life.
The author, Sampurna Chattarji, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the her book 'Dirty Love'.
Q. When is your book hitting the stands, ma'am? Asked by: pallavi
A. Pallavi, I had the Delhi launch day before yesterday and the Bombay launch is tomorrow, ie May 18th, but the book is already in leading bookstores! If you can't find it, do ask the store to get it for you!
Q. Is it in the same genre as Suketu Mehta's Maximum City? Pardon me, if its a naive question but the introduction immediately made me think of Maximum City. Asked by: debprotim
A. No, it's not a naive question! Thanks for asking it. 'Maximum City' is a book of non-fiction, my book 'Dirty Love' is a book of short stories about Bombay/Mumbai. In 'Dirty Love' I look at various aspects of this city through the prism of fiction. Of course it is set in different locations across the city, very specific identifiable locations, situations and characters can be found in my book, but it is a work of imagination. And if you want to know more about it before you pick it up, here's a link where the reviews give you a glimpse of what you could expect from it! http://sampurnachattarji.wordpress.com/dirty-love/
Q. I want to be a writer. How to garner the skill to convert thoughts into words? Asked by: Honey
A. Read incessantly, write obsessively. Keep a notebook with you at all times, make observations, be attentive to the world around you. And get ready to work very hard, long hours, in solitude!
Q. How did you come up with the subject of your book? Asked by: Gunjan
A. Books come to you in bits and pieces, or full-formed. I didn't have to 'come up' with the subject for 'Dirty Love' - I lived the subject, the subject was all around me, subsuming me, challenging me, provoking me, enriching me, making my life what it was! In other words the subject - i.e the city of Mumbai/Bombay - was always in me, waiting to take the form of this book.
Q. How long did it take for you to put down everything in order? Asked by: Tiger
A. I began writing some of the stories in 'Dirty Love' - for example 'The Saint Who Resurrected a Goat' - quite a few years ago. But the final shape began coming to me say about 2-3 years ago, and it all fell in place last year!
Q. What inspired you to write this book? Asked by: Farhan
A. Several things. One, the city of Bombay, with all its moods, its troubles, its sores, its sorrows, its pleasures, its people. Two, other great books about Bombay! Some of which I invoke on Pg 50 of 'Dirty Love' - go have a look, and you'll know exactly which books I mean!
Q. What writers, books, or ideas have most influenced you? Asked by: Jyoti
A. Oh, too many to enumerate here! But I'll try and list one writer, book and idea that has indeed influenced me. One writer I love is Jose Saramago, his style of storytelling. One book is Walter Tevis' The Man Who Fell To Earth, a beautiful science-fiction, that I recommend you read, about an alien who becomes strangely human after he arrives on our planet. And one idea that grabs me is the idea of inscribing a city, the city as a book that we can write, read, turn the pages of as if they were street-corners.
Q. Who should read this book? Asked by: Sneha
A. Anyone who loves a good story, anyone who is a city-dweller and loves-hates his or her own city, anyone who enjoys the sense of the bizarre in our everyday life, anyone who has ever been in love, be it a pure love, a young love, a virtual love or an unrequited love!
Q. So, like most Bombay books, do local trains play an integral part in your anthology? Also, how does one write in a manner that the city becomes a character in itself? Asked by: Akshay
A. Akshay, no the local trains don't play an integral part in my collection! But it's very much present, especially in a story called 'Anger is One Letter Away from Danger' - which is about a working woman who comes home to her in-laws after a gruelling train journey, something that every Mumbaikar is familiar with! And as to your second questions, I think different writers have different approaches to making the city a character. In 'Dirty Love' it happens very organically, yet inevitably, and you can notice this in the title story where the 'she' is no other than the 'city'!
Q. Have you planned a next project? Asked by: yamini
A. Yes I have. It's already in the pipeline, a collection of short stories about the other city in my life - Kolkata!