Amit Chaudhuri: Why I Write Novels

Amit Chaudhuri in n + 1:

The title of this talk seems to suggest that I know the answer to the “why,” and that I’m about to share it with you. I began writing my first novel in 1986, in what I elected to be my gap year: so, if I’ve been trying my hand at fiction for about thirty-four years now, I should definitely have some idea why I write novels. The truth is that the title has a misleading sound. It should have been, “Why Do I Write Novels?”, with the emphasis on the “do”: because I’ve grown increasingly, rather than less, puzzled by this part of my existence—a part that, to those who know my work from afar, may even seem definitive of my existence.

Of course, in order for me to be confident of that title, “Why I Write Novels,” I have to assume that the reader knows enough of my fiction to want to learn of its backstory and provenance. I’m not making such an assumption. What I’m hoping is that the spectacle of a person who’s published seven novels over three decades without knowing exactly why he’s chosen that genre to write in will be a matter of curiosity to others.

People have pointed out to me from the start that I have been writing about my life. I have been at pains to point out to them that I’m interested in “life,” not “my life,” and that there’s a subtle difference between my understanding of the first and the second.

More here.