I’m over at Scroll, an India-based independent news, information, and entertainment venture published in partnership with Atlantic Media’s Quartz India, with an interview with Balli Kaur Jaswal, author of Inheritance.
Singapore-born Balli Kaur Jaswal was raised in Japan, Russia, and the Philippines, and is the author of Inheritance, an impressive debut novel that traverses the island-state’s history from 1970 to 1990. In it, a Sikh family wrestles with the unexplained loss of its matriarch, the dismissal from the army of the eldest son under suspicion of homosexuality, and the misdiagnosis of its lone daughter “to devastating consequences” against the backdrop of a newly independent country’s search for identity.
Inheritance is the first English-language novel about Singapore’s Punjabi-Sikh diaspora. “Diaspora fiction is my favourite genre,” Jaswal said. “It speaks to my experience and helps me understand ways of communicating that experience to a wider audience. To write that sort of fiction is such a privilege.”
The novel was published in Australia, where Jaswal lived and worked as a secondary-school English teacher, to great acclaim – she won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelist Award 2014. “Jaswal’s story of one Punjabi family’s efforts to contain the unspeakable is utterly engrossing and ambitious in scope,” the judges wrote.
Jaswal and her partner are leaving Melbourne for Istanbul where she will join the teaching staff at an international school. Scroll spoke to her via Google Chat in the midst of her packing for an international move.
Continue reading “Writing Fiction About Sikhs in Singapore: If You Don’t Know Her, You Should.”