British novelist Esther Freud attended Dhaka Lit Fest 2017 last month. Born in 1963, Freud was named as one of the Best of Young Novelists under 40 by the leading British literary magazine Granta after the publication of her second novel Peerless Flats
(1993). She has written eight novels. Her first book, a semi-autobiographical novel, Hideous Kinky
(1992) was made into a film in 1998, starring Kate Winslet. She is the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud. This interview took place on November 17.
Have you been to different panels at DLF?
I saw some panels yesterday. I saw the opening ceremony and wonderful dramas. I saw Adonis speaking and also various international writers. Then today I did a tour of the old city. I wanted to make sure I saw some of Dhaka.
What was it like seeing the old Dhaka?
Fascinating. I loved that. I'm glad I did it.
Was there any panel you enjoyed particularly or was insightful for you?
It's interesting as a writer, because you don't actually hear writers talking that often. When writers meet they don't talk about writing. So, it was nice to hear people like Lawrence Osborne, to hear about his process of writing. And I'm hoping to go see Ben Okri, who is talking now. So, as soon as I finish this interview I'll go.
What in your opinion are the transcending qualities in a piece of writing that make people relate regardless of language or boundary?
I think it's very personal. Everyone has a book that they love I'm sure they have experienced that somebody else doesn't enjoy that book. For me, I have certain books that transcend the usual books because they speak to me so directly. But that's because I make a personal connection with that book. And that's what's interesting about being a writer, you know. If someone doesn't like your book it's okay.
What is your advice to someone who lost touch with reading? A lot of people say that they used to read a lot but now they just YouTube.
Well, I'd say go to a quiet place and rebuild your connection with books. There is a certain kind of peace and tranquility you get from reading. It's a wonderful thing.
You said in an interview with Alain Elkann that "it’s always hard to know the moment" when you could consider a work finished. How often do you experience those inspired moments when the writing flows seamlessly and you almost don't know where that comes from?
The moments when the writing flows is what makes it all worth it. Sometimes it feels as if the words are coming from my fingers, but how often that happens is hard to measure. Those times are so precious that they can loom larger in my memory, to make up for all the hours, days, weeks, when this doesn’t happen.