Thursday, March 8, 2018

Shoba Narayan

Shoba Narayan is an award-winning author and columnist. Her books include Return to India: an immigrant memoir, Monsoon Diary: a memoir with recipes, and the newly released The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure.

Narayan graduated from the Columbia Journalism School which awarded her a Pulitzer Fellowship. She is an alumnus of Mount Holyoke College and Women’s Christian College.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Narayan's reply:
I know this gets asked a lot but I love this question. I think that it should be required asking for every blind date-- before every blind date in fact so that you can then decide whether or not you want to go out with someone who reads, say Alistair Maclean or Sophie Kinsella-- I have read both by the way.

I tend to go through phases with reading. Currently, I am reading a lot of natural history (because I am a birder/bird-watcher), a lot of humor and some novels.

I loved the avian bits of H is for Hawk. I loved her descriptions of how she trains the Norther Goshawk. As a memoir writer, I was looking to learn from her writing about grief, but somehow I found that less appealing than the compelling stuff about birds.

I am re-reading Jonathan Franzen's collection of essays, Farther Away. I love how he weaves in so many strands into his pieces. The title piece is about friendship, a quest, a novel, and solitude.

I am also re-reading David Sedaris's books. I love all of them but I am currently reading Holidays on Ice. The mixture of comedy and drama and how he walks the line so finely with both is what I envy about him, particularly when he writes about family.

Wendy Doniger's The Hindus. My book about cows showed me how central they are to Hinduism. Since then, I have been reading books about my faith. I like Doniger's irreverence. It got her into trouble in my homeland, but I love her writing.

Diana Eck's book, India: a sacred geography, is sweeping in its scale and yet written with a gripping pace. I have read most of Diana Eck's books: Darsan, the one on Varanasi. She knows a heck of a lot about Hinduism.

Amy Tan was in India recently, which drew me back to her novels. So the Joy Luck Club.

My father did his Ph.D. thesis on R.K. Narayan. He shares my last name but we aren't related. I love the gentle humor in his book, The Vendor of Sweets.

My daughter is reading Rupi Kaur's poetry so I am reading Milk and Honey too.

I am always reading Indian ornithologist, Salim Ali’s books all the time. They are open in pages that I use to reference and learn about bird sightings, range, and markings. The Book of Indian Birds is a classic.

Bianca Bosker’s Cork Dork, which follows in the tradition of Moonwalking with Einstein. I love quests and drink a lot of wine. Bosker’s insights about the world of wine made me nostalgic for New York, where I lived.
Visit Shoba Narayan's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Milk Lady of Bangalore.

The Page 99 Test: The Milk Lady of Bangalore.

--Marshal Zeringue