Author Interview with the Middle East Monitor “My goal is not to have a fight with every person who disagrees, but to gather the people who might feel differently and have them speak. I think that writers should speak because we expect this world to pay attention to the things we say so it might improve us to pay attention to the world also and to do for it what we can. I don’t by any means think this book is going to stop the demolishing of the Bedouin villages or the arrest of the children, but it is a way of changing a corner of the world where we have some power to change something and I believe it is the responsibility of every person to do that in whatever place they find themselves.”
Author Interview with the Bangalore Times “I wasn’t thinking about Scout when writing Devi, though I do mention the book. As a reader, there may be psychological similarities between Raju and Boo Radley and, therefore, Devi and Scout. Whatever similarities are discerned are due to the fact that both novels talk about issues of justice, human goodness, and prejudice, while placing children at the heart of the narrative.”
Author Interview with Zola Books. “If I wrote it as nonfiction, I would be claiming a certain ultimate veracity to my version of things and that would go against what I believe: the history of a country is fiction because it is made up of millions of stories. This book contains some of those.”
Book Notes for Largehearted Boy, a playlist of some of the music selections behind On Sal Mal Lane. “Much of the music in the book came from the interplay between these two forces: memory and education and these are a few of the compositions or songs that made their way into the novel itself.”
International Festival of Authors Five Questions. “You describe yourself as an author and an activist. Were you both whilst writing On Sal Mal Lane?”
The Millions interview, “Capturing the Complexities of Time and Place,” with Hope Mills. “You’ve talked about how “the exercise of writing both fiction and opinion is reflective of a passionate attempt to contribute to our common human enterprise whether that is quiet, personal, public, political or all of these.” Why is this important to you?”
The Nervous Breakdown self-interview. “Aren’t you afraid people will only remember you as a shallow fluff-ball who likes dresses and shoes and parties and Manhattans (shhh, I heard), and pretty boys?”
The Rumpus Book Club interview. “How did you deal with what must have been the temptation to have some character (or the narrator) just tell some of the history, given that much of your American audience probably can’t find Sri Lanka on a map, much less know the history?”
ForeWord Reviews interview. “The best way to deal with politics is to look at what it does to ordinary people, for that is all that matters. What did American slavery do to “Missy,” sold with her three children to a Mr. Agee for $2,700? We imagine her husband, glad to have his wife and kids bought by the man who owns him, raising a cry to God in gratitude. What does it mean to feel grateful for such a travesty? Likewise, what might it feel like to watch a bedridden man carried from his house before it burns? It is only when we focus on the minutiae of ordinary lives that we understand the absurdity of policies hollered about in government buildings.”
A-List interview, “How to Live Forever,” with Matthew Salesses “Early on in my conversation with novelist Ru Freeman, in a bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, she says something that will stay with me as I finish her momentum-filled latest, On Sal Mal Lane. She says that in Sri Lanka, her birth country and the country in which the novel is set, children are coddled, but not from death.”
Bookslut interview about On Sal Mal Lane with Terry Hong. “A whole lifetime passed before war was finally over, although perhaps to say peace came is still, unfortunately, perhaps a bit premature. When the official end was announced, where were you on May 18, 2009?”
Ru speaks about writing on Poets & Writers’ feature, Writers Recommend. A full length feature on Ru can be found in Poets & Writers Summer Fiction issue, July/August 2009, available in bookstores.
John Zuarino interviews Ru on Bookslut: “You’ve worked in humanitarian assistance and workers’ rights in the past. Would you say this experience has an effect on your writing, specifically in fiction? If so, how?”
Ru answers five important questions relating to her life as a writer, including what she would be doing if she were not a writer, website she could not live without, books she wishes she had written and thoughts on music and writing on the Fictionaut Five blog. Click here to read the Q&A with Jürgen Fauth.
“Ru began writing as a young child when she wrote to the newspapers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to protest the fact that a cartoon program she liked to watch had been interrupted by a broadcast by then President, J.R. Jayawardena. She won several awards for her writing when she was still in Sri Lanka, including a Presidential Award for creative writing. Hailing from a family of writers (both her father, Gamini Seneviratne and brother, Malinda Seneviratne, are poets and writers), Ru was taught literary criticism and an appreciation for language by her mother who was a teacher at Royal College.” Read the complete article on Ru in the Sri Lanka Foundation newsletter.
“A Sri Lankan writer whose political journalism and fiction has been published internationally, Ru Freeman is an author whose rise will be worth watching,” says Naazish YarKhan, and asks the author, “Is there a sequel coming? This is the just the kind of story where one waits to know what happens to the characters next? Are people drawing comparisons between the grim reality in Slumdog and the one in your book? How did you decide to write Latha’s story? Was the greater idea to offer social commentary within a story so as to affect change?” among others. Read the complete Huffington Post interview here.
“You’ve worked in humanitarian assistance and workers’ rights in the past. Would you say this experience has an effect on your writing, specifically in fiction? If so, how?” John Zuarino’s complete interview with Ru Freeman on Bookslut can be found here.
Eric Forbes, interviewing Ru Freeman from Kuala Lampur, asks a series of questions including those that pertain to the publishing industry, such as the business of finding a publisher, and those that ask about the writing life, and about living in the United States, and the social system in Sri Lanka. Read the interview here at the Book Addict’s Guide to Good Books.
Interview with blogger Word Lily, on writing, food, and the importance of birthdays. “I just reviewed Ru Freeman’s A Disobedient Girl, a story of two women, set in the author’s native Sri Lanka. Now, I have the pleasure to interview her, and on her birthday! I decided I had to ask her about birthday celebrations and traditions.”
“I read Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman this summer, hot off book store shelves, as my final pick for the summer…it didn’t disappoint. It was sad, so sad and yet the honesty of feelings and thoughts that streamed across its pages made me wonder about the author. How did she know so much that was so true about the inner workings of the mind and heart? Her wisdom does belie her age. A SriLankan writer whose political journalism and fiction has been published internationally, Ru Freeman is an author whose rise will be worth watching.” Blogger Amy’s interview with the author can be found here.
“Being at uninhibited physical ease with the universe creates space in me for the rich interiorities people cart around as they move, in their own ways, in the variously hospitable worlds of our making. If the story is stuck, I let it be and begin something else; the given day is too precious to squander on battling the occasionally intransigent fictions of my mind.” Ru Freeman, featured in the Poets & Writers’ Summer Fiction Issue, in July/August, 2009, talks about what magic keeping her writing. Read it on the Poets & Writers, Writer’s Recommend feature.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Ru Freeman responds to the question of social commentary in fiction by saying, “I made a conscious effort to let the story remain one about these particular characters and their conflicts with and responses to each other. The particular set of conditions which circumscribed their lives had to do with class, but they could just as easily have had to do with political upheaval or robbery or a foreign invasion or anything else…If a story feels true to me, I think it is when I can feel that the characters could be put in any situation and I have a good sense of what they might do there. Which is very different from a set of characters about whose doings you know external details but nothing of their inner motivations.” Read the complete Sunday Times interview, ‘Writing for the Latha’s of Her Childhood,’ by Smriti Daniel here.
“I usually read several books at the same time as most writers do, but rarely are they as different from each other as the three I am reading now…” Ru Freeman writes about the books she is reading for the Campaign for the American Reader.
Fictionaut’s Jürgen Fauth asked a series of questions, including which book does she wish she could write, and blogs she can’t live without. She says, “If there is a book I still aspire to write and perhaps feel is possible, down the line, it would be Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa, except with regard to Sri Lanka. It would take many years, a tremendous amount of research and serious commitment, but that’s an aspiration.” Read the complete Fictionaut Five interview here.
Blogger Hannah Nielsen interviewed Ru Freeman on her birthday, the 8th of September. Her questions stemmed from the references made to birthdays in the novel. “In the book, on page 69, Latha muses: “The only other times they had parties were for Thara’s birthday, and even then only boring dinners with chicken curry and seeni sambol and fruit salad and ice cream afterward for relatives they never saw the rest of the year. There were never any young people and certainly no music and dancing like Leela said there had been at her house.” I would like to know how your birthday was celebrated? What are birthday celebrations like in Sri Lanka? Tell us about your favorite birthday.” Read the full interview here.