Interviewer: Welcome to Author Avik, and congratulations for the success of your book “Love in Siesta”. Before I ask you any questions, I would give it to you to tell our readers that what different you have done in your book as there are thousands of books on the Short story? It’d make our readers aware of your work.
Avik: Thank you. Right you are. I have been a published author for two decades. The “critic, columnist and academic” label has been there as a known tag with me both at home and abroad. But this is my first collection of stories. The sacred and enigmatic space of learning played cynosure all through my life. My literature revolves keeping a very close proximity to History and evolution. True, Love in Siesta is different, because the eight stories of my collection are eight entries into consciousness, eight spots of Time, where Blood whispers. Before head and heart, the instinct replies. Lust is the issue of the blood. The human collective unconscious consists of the primeval instinct, the archetypes. Love in Siesta captures that mysterious human consciousness, aspects and behaviour of Time. Such treatments often factor my stories as ‘One of its kind’. My choice of themes show that I cannot be by any chance linked with most of my themes. Here are eight stories that intend to capture Time framed by the evolution of human instinct with shades of changing socio-psychic rationale where man-woman relation remains in the pivot—be it in the enlightened dawn after primitivism, or eight thousand years before, or in five thousand B.C., or centuries later in 12th century A.D. or even in the run of the life of contemporaneity. As an objective artist, I cannot be there. I created the characters and situation in a time scale and let them ripe. At the kernel, my craft encompasses the spectrum of mysterious human mind. Aspects and behaviour of Time through human history add hues to it. My focus is on the human instinct, with and without inhibition and time-specific cultural endowment. With a perseverance of an archaeologist and subtle sensitivity of a poet- my laborious effort of coherent recording gives birth to my unique creations. I enjoyed hearing a critic mentioning of me- “…he is a Historian of Literature and Literati of the Minds.”
Interviewer: When did you start writing poetry? Do you remember the first time you wrote something? What was the source of your inspiration earlier? Did it change with time?
Avik: Well it sprouted as spontaneously as leaves come to trees, I mean when in late teens I felt that the excess of feelings needed to be poured into the best words and in the best order. Poetry was the natural choice. I have been known for my objectivity in writing, but only in poetry, even today, I never shield my self. Its private, where I can communicate with me and see myself as someone so close to me but not alike. I started writing a suspense crime drama when I was around 8 years of age but it was primarily with imitating my father, a novelist of repute, who used to sit and write at regular hours that initiated me into everything. I worked on it for 2 years and it took a shape of a thriller with too many comic elements in it. I also wrote bilingual limerick-like poems in French- Bengali, Sanskrit- Bengali, French-Sanskrit, as I was then learning both French and Sanskrit languages, I enjoyed lighter moments with languages in my own way. My father, late Manab Gangopadhyay, a novelist extraordinaire, known for creating “an idiom of mind,” has shaped all that I am. A noted academician, litterateur, critic and philosopher like him as a father made me interdisciplinarian at the core. My mother Smt. Sriparna Gangopadhyay a celebrated classical dancer and singer of Tagore songs have also mentored my emotional and finer aesthetic perceptions. I also intend to mention the role of Bengal, my part of the world, which has produced a galaxy of class writers in world literature. I am very much born out of it. Later on, with the passage of time, I found all the ancient epics of the world, selected Greco-Roman drama, works during the Italian and European Renaissance, late Victorian, modern and postmodern poets, novelists and dramatists across the globe including Asian literature have had immense influence on my creative and critical bent.
Interviewer: So Avik, how do you see the current situation of short story writing of Indie authors? Is there any need for improvement in it?
Avik: The western critics echo that Indian literature is less literary these days. Well, 21st century themes and linguistic trends will naturally dominate. Conventional plots will wither; themes will be more particular than universal. Modern thinking, feeling, willing will make way. New life styles will bring new treatments and understanding. These have already started happening. Indians have their identifiable narrative style. Own choice of themes too. There is a sea change in approaching art and literature as a whole. It is bound to happen. One cannot arrest changes. I would only like to say with humility that please don’t stop reading. An informed writer is a phenomenon. Both the writers and the readers have to grow, be mature…they too have a duty to elevate their tastes…that too has a process…both have to undergo this journey.
Interviewer: The main focus in your stories was on Love, Attraction, and Emotions. Can you define these terms again in your own way?
Avik: Well, I better characterise than define. It depends on how one approaches love, attraction, and emotion. I am conscious about these. Love sometimes comes to life as a dream, at the same time electrocutes one up into a reality from a nightmare. But the greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. The emotion of love and the emotion of attraction are distinct. I do not know whether I have wavered between ‘to love’ and ‘to be loved;’ and there is perhaps everything in the ‘to love and be loved’ perception. Love is short and it takes too much of a strength to dare ‘true love’ as forgetting plays the natural human balm to both pleasure and pain. As a creative artist I focused the search light of truth on the instinct of love and its existence; and there often love seemed hard to save itself from melting down.
Interviewer: You have a versatile set of talents in writing. And also you have 30 published books in English and Bengali to your credits. Please explain to our readers how do you see yourself?
Avik: Thank you so much. As a person, I have never been centered on winning of recognition or accomplishments surfacing in public. A private person by nature, I swim through my own inner journey. My interest in Indian and Western classical music initiated my association with playing sitar and keyboard in my teens but it was interdisciplinary studies that consumed my focus. My long association with psychology, cultural anthropology, philosophy, history, popular science, comparative religion, treasures of antiquity, photography and documentation had shaped both my creative and critical psyche. Voracious as a library lover, I enjoy scoring music, enjoy anything which touches the realm of fineness in human expressions... A voyager at heart, my thirst of being wonder-dipped takes me to places less visited, be it through travelling or be it to newer dimensions in my spheres of thoughts and knowledge. And finally, the sacred and enigmatic space of learning played cynosure all through my life.
Interviewer: Do you like love stories the most? Is it your favorite genre? Please let us know about your other interest areas in literature.
Avik: Not really. Love is both not the only romance and the reality of life and living. In future I wish to deal with themes like death, coming of age, power and corruption, survival, prejudice, courage and heroism, individual vs. society, deprivation, self-deception and war. These themes interest me too.
Interviewer: If readers ask you, what makes The “Love in Siesta” a must-read, what will be your reply to that question, Avik?
Avik: First, it is different, because the eight stories of my collection are eight entries into consciousness, eight spots of Time, where Blood whispers. Before head and heart, the instinct replies. Lust is the issue of the blood. The human collective unconscious consists of the primeval instinct, the archetypes. Love in Siesta captures that mysterious human consciousness, aspects and behaviour of Time. Such treatments often factor my stories as ‘One of its kind’. Second, my choice of themes show that I cannot be by any chance linked with most of my themes. Here are eight stories that intend to capture Time framed by the evolution of human instinct with shades of changing socio-psychic rationale where man-woman relation remains in the pivot—be it in the enlightened dawn after primitivism, or eight thousand years before, or in five thousand B.C., or centuries later in 12th century A.D. or even in the run of the life of contemporaneity. As an objective artist, I cannot be there. I created the characters and situation in a time scale and let them ripe. And to mention the least, the very content, style and approach of the collection are novel, well, that’s all the reviews in India and abroad opined.
Interviewer: As you are having lots of published book in your account, do you think that knowing a different kind of people has given you an understanding of the plights of people in this worldly life? I would like if you could explain this to me.
Avik: Yes there can be a book on people I have come across in life both as an individual and an author. My father had a transferable job, so I stayed at different places and with people with so much differences. It is the variety of people that pulled me into psychology and later in to a bit of social work that I engage into. The professional complexities, survival instinct, imperfections in multitude, psychological inadequacies and disorders, pain and suffering, perversions, complexes, clashes between moral and political ideals, deceptions, humiliations and insults, abuse and exploitation, jealousy and intolerance, ill-digested knowledge-- all coexist with romanticism, creativity, prudence, scholarship and benevolence. One needs to accommodate with the world, often so different from realistic imagination. Empathy is the key word before understanding. The plight of the world is so enormous but its motivating because that will drive one to act and turn the wheel to change.
Interviewer: And what are your plans after this one – “Love in Siesta”? Any book coming very soon? We are excited to read next from you.
Avik: Presently I am nearing completion of a book on the Glimpses of Indian Languages. I am also completing a novel set on two thousand years before Christian era. Hope to complete it by the end of this year. A collection of my Columns published in reputed Dailies across the globe will see light soon.
Interviewer: What is your message to the young authors who are willing to explore the new dimensions of creative writing?
Avik: With humility, I would like to say to the young writers that please don’t stop reading…an informed well-read creative writer is always regarded as a phenomenon by himself/herself. Writers have to grow, be mature…they too have a duty to elevate their tastes…that too has a process…one has to undergo this journey.