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The Iconoclast by Sreela P. Nair


Sreela P. Nair’s The Iconoclast is set in the cultural and political climate of Palakkad

The Iconoclast is a new short novel reaching readers in the city this week, but its author Sreela P. Nair is not just an academic donning the garb of a raconteur in her free time. In fact, this Assistant Professor in English at the NSS College, Pandalam, has a couple of other hats she wears at intervals.

The book

The Iconoclast is set in ‘the cultural and political climate of Palakkad’ and is the result of the author’s stint at a college there in the past. The protagonist of the novel Kanthi, is also an academic, and hails from the northern part of the country, and it’s through this voice that the paradoxical nature of the society in the State is etched out in fine but bold strokes.

The book is also the result of an emotional journey for the author. “It was written during a time of intense emotional stress. I had lost my father on March 11, 2010. He was someone who had a huge influence on me. I was also convalescing after an illness at the time.” The book proved to be a release to her trauma and has several strong moments proving the flux of the author’s mind.

So how long did she take to write this? “I remember the date I penned the first few lines, it was March 18, 2010 and the first draft was ready in mid-May.’

So what does the writer read? “My reading has a sound base in the classics which were available at my school library at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pattom. But I do read other genres, anything that interests me is a good read.”

So, who is her favourite writer or book? “I have no favourites but I do remember Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights as a book that stayed with me in my initial years. Right now I have several authors that appeal to me, like Marquez, Llosa, Achebe, and Soyinka.” Her doctorate thesis was on American Drama, so drama also forms a huge chunk of her reading. “I adore Sartre.”

So, how does her career or reading influence her writing? “Academics doesn’t influence my writing in any direct way. But naturally I read a lot as a part of my work and I never forget what I read. For me, writing is an inspired activity, it comes from an amount of recall.”

Sreela is not a first time author; she has already penned a volume of poetry and essays under the title The Quill Driver in 2010. In fact, she has more poetry in the pipeline.

Painting is another hobby she dabbles in. “I am an autodidact in this art. I don’t do portraits but landscapes or, to be more exact, seascapes. The sea has always been my inspiration and release and I love its different moods as a person and as an artist.” However, her real interest lies in translations. She has translated two stories by Narayan and other short works, which has been published in literary magazines like Indian Literature (from the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi), for instance. “I am a huge fan and an avid reader of translations as well. In fact, right now I am preparing to present a paper on ‘Cross Cultural Translations.’”

The Iconoclast is brought out by Folio Books, Thiruvananthapuram.

Courtesy: Suneetha B., The Hindu

Filed under: Book of the week, ,

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