So we have my mother-in-law over from the UK and I am not keeping up my self imposed blogging schedule, but here are a couple of writing prompts and some thoughts based round the writing of Jhumpa Lahiri whose novel, The Lowland, I recently reviewed for the Historical Novel Society and LOVED! It is shortlisted for the National Book Award in the US and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize so I guess I am not alone in this view :)
1. Place two characters with a problem or secret between them in a situation where both are out of their respective comfort zones. Let the truth out. (This is inspired by Lahiri’s short story A Temporary Matter.
2. Imagine two siblings who could not be more different. Write about them. (That’s from The Lowland).
And while you write, consider this Q&A from an interview with Lahiri in the New Yorker I’m copying, but if you want to read the whole article, it’s here.
“In “The Lowland” there are times when your writing is quite different than it’s been in the past. The sentences are sometimes shorter and more clipped—you use more sentence fragments, for example, than you’ve done previously—and there’s a greater sense of urgency in the voice. Was this something that you were aware of as you were writing?
I think a little bit. I had been wanting to write in a slightly different way with this book. I didn’t want the book to feel heavy, because I felt that the book was heavy—I mean that the story was heavy, the material was heavy, the situation, the circumstances, all of this was very weighty. And I didn’t want the writing to feel heavy. I just wanted to say what I needed to say in the sparest way that I could. I wanted to have some sort of lightness. So I was trying to pare back even more than I normally try. The earlier drafts did feel heavier and clunkier and not satisfying, because I just felt there was so much information, there was so much history, the emotions of the book—everything that was going on. It just felt very burdened and I wanted to free the book up in some way.”