#DesiBooks10QA: Anita Goveas on a new anthology from UK writers of the global majority

About the author:

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in Untitled Writing. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, and an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine. Her debut flash collection, Families and Other Natural Disasters, is available from Reflex Press.

About the book:

Where We Find Ourselves is an anthology of stories and poems from forty-five UK writers from African, African American, Arab, Asian, Bangladeshi, Black, Black British, Black British Caribbean, Black African, British Asian, British African Caribbean, British Indian, British Lebanese, British Sri Lankan, British Pakistani, Caribbean, Chinese, Chinese-Filipino, Chinese-Malaysian, Indian, Indigenous Mexican Latinx, Human, Middle Eastern, Mixed Race, South Asian, and Tamil communities. Their contributions are responses to the themes of maps and mapping. The authors investigated where we find home, identities lost and found, colonial history, diaspora, exile, finding oneself, getting lost, childhood exploration and adult homecoming, family, and much more. The collection has been edited by Sandra A Agard and Laila Sumpton.

Where We Find Ourselves is an anthology with stories and poems from 45 UK writers on the themes of maps and mapping. Anita Goveas, on of the contributing writers, responds to the #DesiBooks10QA @DesiBooks

1. The desi book that made you want to be a writer (or changed your life.)

I read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy in my late twenties and fell in love with the wit and the language, the warmth in the way she depicts her characters, and the breadth of what she was trying to show, It was the first time I wasn’t trying to figure out nuances or cultural references, and the writing style spoke to me and made me want to pick up a pen.

2. The desi book that your own latest book is most in conversation with and why.

The goal of an anthology of writing from contributors across the global majority is to start a new conversation. Where We Find Ourselves contains stories and poems about finding oneself and getting lost, colonialism and diaspora, childhood exploration and adult homecoming.

Does another anthology like this exist? I’d love to read it.

I read The God of Small Things in my late-20s […] It was the first time I wasn’t trying to figure out nuances or cultural references, and the writing style spoke to me…” ~Anita Goveas #DesiBooks10QA @DesiBooks

3. The desi book that doesn’t exist (to your knowledge) but you’d love to read.

I’d love to read something set in the Catholic communities of India—something in Goa or Mangalore, where my family are originally from—that shows something of how the Portuguese also impacted on India.

4. The desi book that you’re currently reading or planning to read soon.

I’m looking forward to Mrs. Pinto Drives to Happiness by Reshma Ruia, out this month from Dahlia Publishing. I’m a fan of her delicate poetic short stories and Dahlia (run by Farhana Shaikh) is a great supporter of desi authors.

5. The desi book that you believe should be read and known more and why.

I really enjoyed May We Borrow Your Country, a collection of stories and poems about displacement and belonging by the writing collective The Whole Kahani. It feels like a very relevant theme right now and it’s fascinating to see how the works by the different authors work so well together.

6. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t censor yourself in the first draft.

I always worried so much about what other people will think that I never finished anything or couldn’t capture the beautiful idea in my head on the page until I learnt to ignore those little internalized critics and judges.

#WritingTip from Anita Goveas: “Don’t censor yourself in the first draft. […] learn to ignore those internalized critics and judges.” #DesiBooks10QA @DesiBooks

7. While writing your latest book, how did you keep yourself motivated to keep going despite setbacks (if any)?

This is the fourth time I’ve submitted to Arachne Press and the first time I was accepted. So I was excited to be part of this particular anthology and it made it all worthwhile. It’s been important for me to set myself goals as a writer, accept that rejection is part of the process, and find people who support when things are getting me down.

8. With this latest book, what does “literary success” mean to you?

Our definition of success with Where We Find Ourselves is not the usual kind. This anthology is intended as an opportunity for new writers, a consolidation for established writers, and an opportunity for all of them to discover each other. It’s also an open door for other writers who might have been marginalized from the traditional publishing industry.

9. How have larger literary citizenship efforts or the writing community helped you with this latest book?

This anthology is a great example of literary citizenship in itself. It’s lovely to be part of something that’s actively trying to show the breath of experiences and writing styles across some many communities but linked by these brilliant themes of maps and mapping. And it’s so satisfying to recognize something about yourself in these stories and poems.

10. What would you most like readers to take away from this latest book?

I would like for readers to discover an author they have not heard of before and might want to learn more about. I enjoyed reading new work from writers I admire such as Kavita A Jindal, Farhana Khalique, and Gita Ralleigh, and also discovering writers new to me such as Mallika Khan.

“I would like for readers to discover an author they have not heard of before and might go away to learn more about.” ~Anita Goveas on the Where We Find Ourselves anthology #DesiBooks10QA @DesiBooks

Where We Find Ourselves is out now. More about Anita Goveas, one of the writers who’s contributed, at her website.

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