|Born||Hari Mohan Nath Kunzru
1969 (age 47â€“48)
London, United Kingdom
|Ethnicity||British Indian of Kashmiri Pandit origin|
|Education||BA in English Language and Literature
MA in Philosophy and Literature
|Alma mater||Wadham College, Oxford
|Notable works||Gods without Men|
Suburbia is all about private ownership and not having to share, and it leads to a paranoid, defensive mindset. I know this, having grown up in Essex.
I think it's important for all culturally literate people to understand the technological substrate of new developments.
As I got older I became a kind of sub cultural junkie, foraging around in music, street fashion and eventually art, politics and the freakier reaches of the Internet, hunting the next discovery, the next seam of underground gold.
Say there are three identical-looking pizza joints on a street. Two of those will always be empty. The third will have a line of people patiently waiting, checking their phones. There's always one place that's the place. That's how it works.
There are things about our world that almost by their nature defy our ability to comprehend them. Some people use a religious register to deal with that – they call it God and that's a way of domesticating it.
Being in Harlem on the night of Barack Obama's election was extraordinary. It was the best street party I have ever gone to, and it felt like the period of American history which began with slavery had ended that evening.
I suffer from vertigo. It's paralyzing in extreme situations. The most scared I've been as an adult was trying to conquer that fear by going climbing in Wales.
I'm fascinated by the emergence of a global class. They're highly mobile; they reject the idea of place.
I like moral judgment to emerge from the reader. We are being sold a very simplistic morality by our leaders at a time when nuance and understanding are at a premium.
There's an explosion of Indian fiction of all kinds, from military thrillers to chicklit. I think that's exciting.
Some books I've kept because the binding is beautiful – I'm unlikely ever to read my grandmother's copy of 'The Life of Lord Nelson.' I'm addicted to secondhand bookshops.
I enjoy thinking myself into other times and places. I don't like some of the conventions of the 'historical novel', but I think there's a way of doing it that has a lot of merit.
I can see a version of my life where it all becomes meaningless. On a good day, writing seems noble. Other times, it's narcissistic and pointless.
These days we're all hyper-aware of the canonical way in which stories are supposed to play out – people are taught all about three-act scripting and where to put the reversal and all of that – and I think we can do more interesting narratives.
In my early teens, science fiction and fantasy had an almost-total hold over my imagination. Their outcast status was part of their appeal.
I stand on my public record as a defender of the human rights of Muslims, notably my work for Moazzam Begg and other British Muslims detained without trial in Guantanamo Bay.
When I try to understand somebody, create a character, I fall into them. When I think writers are telling me what to think, I get harrumphy.
Intellectuals who live in Hungary, or who wish to work or lecture there, are extremely circumspect in their criticism.
I tried to take seriously the idea that if you tortured language you might arrive at some new truth. Later it became clear to me that I was retreading ground by fighting the literary battles of the 1950s and 1960s, and that I was actually a bit bored by some of the books I professed to love.
I realized I had a novel on my hands, but didn't know where it was going to go. So I thought, 'I'm going to do everything that you're not supposed to do when you plan a novel; I'm going to step back and let this thing take itself wherever it wants to go, and I'm not going to worry about how things connect until later on.'
There's nothing New York likes more than a thing. Or a place. Or a place that's a thing. Or a thing that happens to be a place.
I'm interested in complexity, in the mathematical sense, as well as the idiomatic sense. The idea of emergence – that it's possible for complex patterns to arise out of many simple interactions – is fascinating.
But it's the particularity of a place, the physical experience of being in a place, that makes it onto the page. That's why I don't just do library research. I very rarely write about somewhere I haven't been.
There are still some terrible cliches in the presentation of Indian fiction. The lotus flower. The hennaed hands. In mainland Europe, people still slap these images on my books and I go bananas.