SHARJAH – Addressing a packed hall of students from across the UAE, renowned Indian journalist and writer Manu Joseph admitted that education was a mystery to him.
Considered as one of the finest English language authors in present day India, Joseph, was attending an audience discussion and book signing session at Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).
Sharing his school-time experience of how he never understood his maths lessons, the former editor of Open magazine, said; “I would always think that a parallelogram was just a square stretching its legs. I was never interested in what the teacher was saying, I would just sit there trying to straighten the square’s legs.”
Amid laughter, he continued; “When we studied the solar system, I would always feel sorry for the planet Mercury, which is so little compared to other planets around it. I thought that Mercury would be feeling so humiliated.”
Author of widely acclaimed and best-selling novels, Joseph shared how one of the characters in his novels is similar to what he was like when he was 11-year-old. Interacting with the students he talked about his books, the authors he admired and the difference between the writing styles for journalism and novels.
Discussing the traits of a good writer, Joseph elaborated: “A little bit of arrogance is essential. You cannot be meek and write a story – there has to be some intentional arrogance. But you should also possess a degree of humility at the same time.”
Offering advice for aspiring authors, he said, “I don’t write for a specific readership – I write what I want to share. If you keep thinking of the readership, or if you tailor your writing to specific audiences, it won’t work.”
Joseph has written three novels to date. His debut title ‘Serious Men’ won the PEN/Open Book Award, while his second book ‘The Illicit Happiness of Other People’ is a semi-autobiographical novel. His third book ‘Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous’ was well received for its take on the political and social system in India.
Joseph is just one of the many prominent authors who are conducting book discussions and other sessions at SIBF 2017, which runs until November 11 at Expo Centre Sharjah.