The University of Iowa

5Q Interview: Tilottama Majumder (India) 2017 IWP resident

The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are talking with Tilottama Majumder, a fiction writer and poet from India.

1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?

Yes. Plan(a) To start with writing a novel in Bengali.
Plan(b) To go through studies and research on Amish community in the USA.

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine? 

I do a full time job. I am an editorial assistant in the most renowned Bengali publishing house in our West Bengal province, naming Ananda Publishers Pvt .Ltd. I get times to write only in Saturdays and Sundays. I can not claim that I make full usage of those days. In most of the days, I fail to bring my mood to write and concentrate with pen and paper. If I be successful to concentrate after a long time struggle within myself, I see my weekend runs out illogically fast.
You might have already in mind to ask then, when do I write?
If I can concentrate, I take leave day after day without caring my job and carrier in the office. Then I write madly throughout the day, any time, from dusk to dawn, from morning to late night, as long as I do not fall asleep.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure? 

I read three or four books simultaneously and choose according to my mood. Now I am reading The Trial by Kafka, Life and Times of Michael K by JM Koetzee, Is God a Mathematician by Mario Livio for pleasure and for research some books on Indian farmers. I have a plan on writing a novel about the struggle and hardship of farmers in our country.

4. What is one thing the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work? 

I wish to share problems of literature written in a regional language.

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home? 

I am from a small tea garden situated at hillside of the Himalayan range in the northern part of India. I was born and brought up there in the niche of natural beauty. When I was 18, I came to the city of Kolkata for higher studies. I neither could love the populace, unclean city with complicated mind-set of city dwellers nor I could leave the place. I got jabbed in a loneliness and depression. I was a student of good merit in school days and went to be just opposite in college. I was studying science and mathematics but failed to complete graduation for the first time.

From then, I could not love the city, I live here for my job and for the facilities of publication of my books. I go to the hills, to sea, to forests and villages as frequently as I can. I feel suffocated to be in the city for 6 months at a stretch.

My grandmother was a poet. She used to compose poems anytime on any trivial thing from our daily lives. She was a book lover. It was a regular phenomena for her to burn foods as she used to read any book while working in the kitchen. My father was very fond of literature, very good actor and remarkably proficient in English. One of my uncles was a famous poet.

My mother is a very good singer, play director and painter too.


Thank you Tilottama!

Check the IWP website for events that will include Tilottama Majumder throughout the residency.