Read widely, read deeply
Oct 19, 2015-
Keshab Sigdel is a poet, academic and rights activist. He has already written two poetry collections, Samaya Bighatan (2007) and Six Strings (co-authored anthology, 2011). A lecturer at the Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Sigdel is also the vice-president of the Society of Nepali Writers in English, founding member of Asia Pacific Writers and Translators, Hong Kong, and an editor of the literary journal Of Nepalese Clay. The Post’s Marissa Taylor caught up with Sigdel for a quick chat over books. Excerpts:How did you first come to love books?
During the 1990s, I had access to political literature at home. Knowing that certain books were not allowed in the public, for political reasons, I loved read these
books secretly. Also, my friend’s father, who was quite enchanted by popular Hindi detective novels, made quite an impression on me. I began borrowing those novels from him, and I would read them. The magic of those books worked on me.
What was the last book you read and how did you like it?
Recently, I completed reading almost a dozen anthologies of Nepali essays. After extensively going through them, I now feel that Nepali essays mostly leave much to be desired. They are mostly the description of events, people and places, and lack the power to provoke and thrill readers with novel ideas and issues.
Which book do you want to read next and why?
I have already started re-reading classical as well as contemporary Nepali literary works. Actually, with the increasing translations and other literary interactions, members of the Western academia, publishers and researchers are gradually taking interest in the literature of our region. But for obvious reasons, I believe, we are better positioned to accurately talk about the nuances of our literature than anybody else. So, we have no choice but to read our literature.
What is your favourite genre and why?
I have always preferred poetry over prose. Poetry exhibits the real power of language.
How do you select books to read?
It depends. Most of the time, they are based on reviews or recommendations from friends.
Name a book that you would or would not recommend, and why?
It’s better to read anything than not to read. They Mahabharata has had a very strong impact on me. I would certainly recommend it if I had to choose one work.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Why?
Preferences are not always the same. There are excellent works of fiction that you just can’t put down. But I feel I am provoked more by a good piece of contemplative essay than a work of fiction.
What is good writing for you? What would you say makes a good writer?
Writing is an art. Good writing should be able to make the readers forget that there is a writer between them and the text.
Apart from books on social sciences, how have other books affected your life?
Books on philosophy and religion, astronomy and biology have equally been an area of interest for me.
One book that has inspired you a lot and why.
I believe the most inspiring book for me has been the Mahabharata. It has prepared me to face any challenge in life.
Your advice for general readers?
Reading is important. Do not worry whether you are reading a good book or not. You will automatically develop a repertoire of careful selection.
Published: 19-10-2015 09:03