#MeetTheJury - books, reading genres, prizes, get to know more in this conversation with Jury member Swati Thiyagarajan
I read everything from the pulpiest of pulp, the happiest of romances, the most gruesome of murder thrillers, the mind bending science fiction, some great books in the YA genre , space operas and books on the natural world and nature phenomena. Some good horror even. A good story is my jam and I read more than I watch TV even with all of the streamers out there. At present I am reading two books. One, The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn and the other Cosmogenisis by Brian Swimme
I don’t like reading true crime . Rather ironic given I like crime thrillers but I guess when it is fiction I can disengage from the thought that this is something that happened to a real person. However even in fiction if it is crime against a child or sexual abuse of someone - I can’t continue. Apart from this I don’t have too many filters because I truly believe reading is like travelling , just pack your imagination and walk into the book portal. I love it especially when I truly shed sense of self and immerse as the story draws me in. I revisit different books at different times depending on what emotional experience I want to relive
Prizes are incredibly subjective. If one person in our jury had been someone else other than any one of us , the long list could have looked different. It is wonderful for any artist to receive validation and prizes do create a buzz and an interest and hopefully books that might not otherwise get read or get overlooked , because they have been vetted by a group of readers , get their time and attention but I think you need to write your truth and give voice to the story within you regardless of outcome to stay authentic so the quest for validation could limit you. There are many authors for example especially in women’s fiction - romances and so on who sell copies in the millions but will never get acknowledged as serious writers and many books that win serious literary prizes get small readerships - where does one begin to quantify this ? But prizes play a role in amplification which is important. So many beautiful books would have just vanished otherwise. We as humans tend to follow recommendations , as in if I had ten books in front of me I might pick the one a friend recommended over the others but more importantly, as stories have deep impacts, the kind of stories that get traction can shape the ideology of a place and time so of course they impact the socio- cultural milieu.
For me all that matters is that the spot gets sun and light. And has the most comfortable chair to sit on.