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Author Interview: Soham Mukherjee

Published Book: The Call of Bliss

Interviewer: Mr. Soham Mukherjee, first of all, I would like to congratulate you for your debut book! It feels great, as an author myself. I can tell you. All your efforts met in to create something called – Guy on The Sidewalk! How do you feel about it?
Soham Mukherjee:
 It really is a great feeling to have your first book out. This is especially so when you have dreamed of such a day for years.

Interviewer: If readers ask you, what makes THE CALL OF BLISS a must read, what will be your reply to that question, Soham?
Soham Mukherjee:
 I would say that, much like your book, The Call of Bliss is also about finding yourself and understanding why certain things happen and that most of our lives are really outside of our control. That is what the stories in my book talk about: the feeling that joy and happiness are always just around the corner – yet quite unreachable.

Interviewer: How do you compare the writings in Hindi and writings in English? Which language you prefer and why?
Soham Mukherjee:
 Well, as an Anglophone academic and a student of English literature, reading in English is certainly my preference. However, I feel it is important to give importance and greater visibility to works in not just Hindi but all vernacular languages – either through translation or greater publicity. As my mother tongue is Bangla, most of my vernacular reading is in that language. However, I have read a little bit of Hindi literature and in that little bit I have come across great richness. This is arguably true about all vernacular literatures which are why I feel a more prominent platform may be necessary for contemporary and new vernacular texts.

Interviewer: What does writing mean to you? Is it to bring in light the hidden aspects of life? Or you have some different ideas?
Soham Mukherjee:
 Writing to me is therapy. I write for myself. At the same time I have this urge to share my thoughts and ideas with people at large. I have been told I’m a keen observer. I try to use those skills to infuse my writing with a certain reality. If you’ve read the book you will know that my writing tends to be abstract. Thus, these nuggets of reality help to anchor my stories and, perhaps, make my characters relatable.

Interviewer: The modern taste of writing, you must know, is different. What are your views about it?
Soham Mukherjee:
 There is not much you can do about taste. It is always constantly changing. As a writer/reader you have to kind of roll with it. It can be really frustrating at times though when you feel that you’ve written something really good and people don’t really like it. But what can you do?

Interviewer: What are your views about commercialization of writing, sir?
Soham Mukherjee:
 This is something that really bothers me because, as I said, I write for myself. I do not necessarily write to make financial gains. A lot of writing nowadays is about reusing a plot that works, putting in stock characters and just forcing it along a path that everyone knows it was going to go anyway. There are no surprises. If there are any shocks in the writing, they almost feel like they are shocking just for the sake of it and not really as a literary tool. The final season of Game of Thrones would be a good example of this.

Interviewer: How do you relate your writings to the modern world?
Soham Mukherjee:
 Well, my writing is about the modern world. The fact that things are constantly changing and that means our desires are also constantly changing. I suppose the direct relation would be the fact that none of those desires really ever get entirely fulfilled.

Interviewer: Are there other books being worked by you? What after the THE CALL OF BLISS? Please tell me about your future projects.
Soham Mukherjee:
 I have a couple of novels in the works. But I have just enrolled myself for a PhD so that will take up a lot of my time. I’m not really sure how much I will be able to work on my projects. However, I do intend to publish one or two novels based in my home city of Kolkata. There are very few books being written at this time about this beautiful old city. I’d like to change that.

Interviewer: A personal question – which are (or who is) your favourite authors in contemporary literature and why?
Soham Mukherjee:
 This is a very difficult question to answer. I read such a large range of books that it is difficult for me to pinpoint one or two authors. Also, to be honest, I read very few actual contemporary writers. That might seem a little high-handed on my part. But I prefer books and writers that have stood the test of time like Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood or indeed P. G. Wodehouse.
At last, many thanks for your time and wish you the best for your coming projects, sir.

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