Sreemoyee Piu Kundu’s new book
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu is a critically acclaimed author known for her evocative and unique storytelling. Her previous works have received widespread recognition for addressing contemporary issues with depth and sensitivity. Her new book ‘Everything Changes’ showcases Kundu’s prowess in weaving compelling stories that profoundly resonate with readers. She has also founded an organisation called Status Single, which was also the title of her first nonfiction work. A bestseller, ‘Status Single’ is considered a seminal book that comprised interviews with over 3,500 single Indian women from across the country. Excerpts from an interview with the author at the Calcutta launch of the book.
What does the title ‘Everything Changes’ suggest?
‘Everything Changes’ reflects the tumultuous storms that have punctuated my life’s journey, as I went on searching for my real, inner self, trying to discover myself and cope with the shocking suicide of my biological father when I was only four years old, not able to understand or realise the silence and stigma that confronts survivor families, and becomes attuned to the rhythm of resilience.
This title, despite its evolution from "Transit Lounge" to "Bad Blood" to "More Than A Daughter," ultimately resonates as the most fitting expression of my life experiences. The book encapsulates my strong determination to persevere and to forgive and make peace with my past as I actually performed my father's funeral on the morning of my 40th birthday, even in the face of life's harshest blows. One was an accident I was the victim of, and the other was a very serious break-up which devastated me and almost broke me down.
What egged you on to tie up your book’s Kolkata launch with the Lifeline Foundation?
I felt that as my book was triggered by looking back on my biological father’s suicide it would be in the fitness of things for the Foundation to flag off their survivor program for families of those who lose a loved one to suicide. Molly Thambi, psychologist and one of the Directors of this NGO says, 'In a society where most suicides are passed off as accidents, Sreemoyee Piu Kundu's memoir "Everything Changes" takes on this issue head on and deals with the trauma and shame she faced growing up.
She has fought, gained acceptance and healed in the process. For 27 years Lifeline Foundation has focussed on preventing suicide and fighting the stigma that comes with it for the surviving family.
I think you are too young to write a "memoir". Then why?
I don't think there is any age really these days for writing a memoir. There were parts of my life that I was ready to make peace with and make public, and themes like intimate partner violence and surviving in the aftermath of suicide that I felt were significant to throw light on.
Also, a memoir is not the end of a story, according to me. It is a reflection of parts of one's life that I believe I have sifted through the emotional debris and decided that I am prepared to make sense of and share, in the hope that it shines a light on others.
What differences do you experience between writing fiction, and journalistic articles?
Journalism and novel writing are two distinctly diverse genres. Fiction is largely imaginative and comprises plot structure and characterisation and building a narrative arc, while journalistic articles are more about reportage and telling one story based on interviews or quotes from the subjects in a mostly linear fashion.
Also, most journalistic articles come with word limits. One can be more ambitious in a novel. For the writing of my memoirs, I have been deeply inspired by Kamala Das, Anais Nin and Sylvia Plath.
Are you a disciplined writer?
When I am working on a book, I am very disciplined and I also follow this thumb rule of finishing one chapter a day, even if that takes me the whole day. I also switch off from all modes of consuming popular culture and even my cell phone is switched off.
What kind of research did you need to do, if any, for this book?
Actually since this was my memoir and drawn from my own life, there was no research as such needed. However, I did speak to a lot of survivors of suicide to know what they went through and also did my fair bit of study into men and mental health and the shameful silence that meets the family of those who take their own lives.
Let us hear a bit about your journey as an author.
I made my literary debut as an author with ;Faraway Music’, (Hachette) in 2013. My second book, ‘Sita’s Curse’ (Hatchette), an erotic fiction spilling over with sensual and scintillating descriptions, was launched in May 2014 and soon became a national bestseller. ‘You’ve Got the Wrong Girl’ was my earlier book which is a sort of role reversal of the Abhigyanam Shakuntalam story set in contemporary, post-modern India.
‘You’ve Got The Wrong Girl’ was aimed at delving inside a man's head and heart and tackle the resultant travails, to be true to the voice of a man in love, searching for answers on who is his perfect soul match. Then came ‘Status Single’, my first work of nonfiction.
How do you look back on ‘Everything Changes’, now that it has reached the market?
I am thrilled to present 'Everything Changes' to the world. This memoir is a labour of love, a reflection of the myriad experiences that have shaped me into who I am today.
Through this book, I hope to connect with readers on a deeply personal level and inspire them to embrace change as a powerful force for growth. I hope to use the book as a platform to speak on mental health and dispel the darkness that shrouds the life of survivors.