Indian-born author's passion for French

Shumona Sinha
Shumona Sinha

Shumona Sinha dreamt of being a writer since childhood, but never thought she would become a French author

Born in Calcutta, living in Paris since 2001. and as a French citizen for the past 10 years, Shumona Sinha considers French language to be her nation rather than India or France. In her last book, 'Le testament russe', released in March at Gallimard edition, she expresses her passion for Russian literature and invites us on Tania and Adel's journey between Bengal and the Soviet Union.

She recently participated in the new online edition of "Je viens de loin, j'écris en français". this event started in 2017. It's a series of interviews of ex-phonic writers, who write in French without any postcolonial or native link with France or the French language. It's the opportunity to discuss once more this author's vision on the French language, as well as the notions of her journey, exile and origins.

About her journey she says, "I wrote my first short story in Bengali when I was 11 years old, without any plan for getting published. From early childhood I was passionate of becoming a writer. "Lekhika" in Bengali. In my teens, I wrote poems, often with political connotations, which were appreciated. One of my poems was published in Ganashakti, a left-oriented newspaper, when I was 14 years old. And when I was around 17 years old, one of my poems won the Best Young Poet's award at a regional poetry contest held by SFI – the student wing of the Communist party. I kept on writing, poems, poetical prose, articles, published in small-time magazines.

Then again, after studying French at the age of 22, after translating French contemporary poets' works into Bengali and inversely, after and during publishing poetry anthologies, I began writing novels n French. Her novels are highly realistic executed in a poetical prose. She says, "My style of writing can be recognised by systematic metaphors and images. Sometimes there are glimpses of dystopic treatment."

She always incorporates her real life experiences into the novels giving them a fictional twist. The characters of my novels are sometimes composite and totally imaginary. My novels are intricate composition and transformation of souvenirs, mine and of others, so that they become part of the collective memory."

"When it is needed, I do my research in archives, in French, English, Bengali and in Russian. The writing and the research go hand in hand, day and night, for more or less two years," Shumona Sinha shares.

About spending time during lockdown she says, "Staying home without going out of my apartment for several days, often a whole week, writing day and night; drinking sometimes, white wine, vodka for my last novel "The Russian Testament"; I don't smoke or do drugs; taking fresh air of course, and socializing only when I feel a chapter or a passage that I was working on has taken a satisfactory shape."

"Soon after publishing a novel, I start working on a new one. When the project is well defined in my head, I write day and night, mostly the nights, taking breaks for one or two days to rest," she adds.

Right now she is writing an essay on my "Francophonie". She says, "The book will treat linguistic, literary aspects as well as the interrogations on woman's identity, on non-white woman's status in France in postcolonial globalized era. "

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