Gurjinder Basran has arrived. One of British Columbia’s rising literary stars, Gurjinder’s debut novel, “Everything was Good-bye,” received rave reviews across Canada, and garnered literary awards including, The Search for the Great BC Novel Contest in 2010, and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Award in 2011.
Gurjinder is amidst writing her second fictional novel and is in no rush to finish it. A painting needs deep focus, concentration and the right strokes in order for it to be complete. Gurjinder is doing just that and we can’t wait for its arrival. I sat with Gurjinder at a local Starbucks and discussed a few of her favourite things, as well as her writing.
On her novel and representing South Asians:
Do you feel that you need to write about South Asian-related subject matter because you’re from the community?
I want to write about the South Asian subject. It’s the familiar. There are not enough representations of what it means to be South Asian. When you read a book about a Caucasian person you don’t immediately say, “oh that is how Caucasian people are.” However when you read a book about a South Asian woman, people get a different understanding. People don’t realize that there are many different interpretations of what it means to be South Asian or a South Asian woman, so it’s important for various interpretations to be presented in a literary sense.
Is there any risk in recreating the myth that South Asian women are weak or that they come from a repressive community, through your first book, Everything Was Good-bye?
All the women in the story are unique and are strong in their own ways. Women define what strength is too quickly. The definition of strength lies in the context of the subject. Both Meena and her mom are strong in their own ways but were torn between choices. Thinking about one’s family is also a form of strength.
Getting to know the woman behind the novel:
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I’m interested in fashion design, jewellery design, interior design and photography. I wouldn’t mind becoming a lawyer. Arguing is one of my strengths.
Who are your favourite fashion designers?
I like clean lines in clothing which is why I favour the work done by Calvin Klein and Donna Karen. I also like Betsy Johnson – I love her wild wacky flourishes. I’m not much into labels. I care more about the fashion and its sensibility.
What’s your favourite place to eat in Vancouver? Your favourite drink?
I love eating at all the different restaurants in Gastown. I like experimenting with different places. I like red and white wine with food pairings like cheese.
Favourite place to travel?
I love the idea of travel! It’s hard to do so with my schedule. This July, I’m going to Cuba with my family.
What other projects or activities are you involved with?
I love running and I’m training for a half marathon taking place in Victoria mid-Fall.
See Gurjinder Basran with David Chariandy and Anosh Irani at Indian Summer Festival on Sunday, July 15, as part of the cultural conversation, “Who Do You Think You Are?” For more information, click here.
Story by: Jyoti Sahota | Photography Courtesy: Gurjinder Basran