Proust Questionnaire: 17 questions with Romesh Gunesekera
By Yong Shu Hoong
When Romesh Gunesekera's first novel, Reef, was published in 1994, it received widespread acclaim – and a place within the shortlist as a finalist for the Booker Prize. Other novels followed: The Sandglass (1998), Heaven's Edge (2002), The Match (2006) and The Prisoner of Paradise (2012).
Born in 1954 in Sri Lanka, he had also lived in the Philippines, before moving to London, where he currently resides. An elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has been a judge for a number of literary prizes, including the Caine Prize for African Writing, the David Cohen Literature Prize and the Forward Prize for Poetry.
His stories were featured in publications like London Magazine and Granta. His first collection of stories, Monkfish Moon (1992), was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1993, while The Spice Collector (2008) is a limited-edition bilingual collection of three stories set in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira in the 17th century. His latest book of stories, Noontide Toll, will be published in 2014.
1. What are you reading right now?
2. If you were a famous literary character in a novel, play, or poem, who would you be, and why?
3. What is the greatest misconception about you?
4. Name one living author and one dead author you identify with most, and tell us why.
5. Do you believe in writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
6. What qualities do you admire most in a writer?
7. What is one trait you deplore most in writing or writers?
8. Can you recite your favourite line from a literary work or a piece of advice from a writer?
9. Complete this sentence: Few people know this, but I...
10. At the movies, if you have to pick a comedy, a tragedy, or an action thriller to watch, which will you go for, and why?
11. What is your favourite word, and what is your least favourite one?
12. Write a Singapore-based short-short story in three lines that include the following three items: rain, orchids, Christmas.
13. What object is indispensable to you when you write?
14. What is the best time of the day for writing?
15. If you had a last supper, which three literary figures, real or fictional, would you invite to the soiree, and why?
16. A talk that you gave during your writer-in-residency stint at Nanyang Technological University in 2013 was entitled 'Islands of the Imagination'. After spending some time in Singapore, did this tiny island stir your imagination in any way?
17. What would you write on your own tombstone?