Mishi Saran, novelist
Book: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, Alice Munro, 2001
‘When I'm stuck in my work, I turn to the poets. A random selection from my bookshelf's gallery of shamans includes Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Dom Moraes, Lu Xun, Kabir, Ocean Vuong, Anna Akhmatova, Imtiaz Dharker, Dylan Thomas, Nicholas Wong and a 1967 Hong Kong University Press edition of One Hundred and One Chinese Poems gifted to me in 1989.
As regards the more quotidian act of prose, I am indebted to many, but it is an old Canadian fox who most often restores me, because her chiselled sentences fall onto the page, inevitable like gravity. She knows the million silent ways humans affect each other, sometimes without speaking, sometimes without knowing. Her bladed pen slices open the beat of a moment, half-said words, apparently innocent goodbyes at the door, an unexpected kiss, a single, tiny, redemptive rebellion. Sure, all this happens inside a bland Canadian landscape, but she imbues it with terror. Yes, I'm talking about Alice Munro. My favourite book? Possibly Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, but I have commitment issues.
I know that when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, all day I carried a dazed, happy feeling of rightness. All was well with the world, there was golden sunlight all around; and justice, after all.’