Vauhini Vara was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, as a child of Indian immigrants, and grew up there and in Oklahoma and the Seattle suburbs. Her debut novel, The Immortal King Rao (W.W. Norton), is a New York Times Editors’ Choice and has been longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize; reviewing it in the Times, Justin Taylor called it “a monumental achievement.”
Q: You started working on the Immortal King Rao in the year 2009. How was your creative endeavor working on this novel which certainly marks your debut as an author?
VV: It was long and arduous but, in the end, very fulfilling.
Q: On the work front you have worked as a Wall Street Journal technology reporter and as the business editor for The New Yorker. Was there any way in which you feel your job has contributed to this multigenerational epic journey as an author begin?
VV: Yes, the book’s concerns, having to do with capitalism, technology, and family, are deeply informed by my work as a business journalist.
Q: Much of the success of the multi stranded narrative depends on how well it has been characterised. The Immortal King Rao has been reviewed as three great novels as one. The book consists of three different storylines, we would like to know about the process of amalgamating these three storylines into one novel and the sequencing or structuring of the same ?
VV: Properly structuring the book was one of the most difficult aspects of writing it. I kept trying different structures, over and over, until I finally arrived at one — after many years — that worked.
Q: A few major subjects or questions the novel immortal King Rao poses at the familial, societal and global scale is concerning the rising self sovereignty among people and the materiality of interdependence. What are your personal opinions or ideologies about these subjects?
VV: I prefer to engage with these questions in a fictional format and try not to say too much outside of that, to better allow readers to come to their own conclusions.
Apart from being Satirical and heartbreaking, packed with historical detail and flawless dystopian world building, The Immortal King Rao is also an intimate character study, portraying the complicated bonds of families. As one continues to read the book proceeds to unravel the personality of the king from being a larger than life genius to a scared and puzzled child, how would you describe this process of intricate character building?
VV: I didn’t know who King, or his daughter Athena, for that matter, would be, until I started writing and kept going. It was a process of discovery for me.
Q:Lastly, what piece of advice would you like to give all the young writers out there? Anything you would like to share that has helped you maintain momentum or to grow and evolve not only as a writer but also as a person?
Read as much as you can!
Q:Tell us about the future literary projects that you are working on.1 response
VV: I’m working on a story collection called This is Salvaged.