Diacritik features novel Genie and Paul, discussing Paul et Virginie by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, and how Natasha has crafted the story into a new and contemporary work.
‘This story may or may not end in Venice and in silent, unacknowledged tragedy but let it begin here, in London, where RubyTuesday and CallMeIshmael first meet in person, having arranged to do so under the tapestry which hangs in the lobby of The British Library…’
Natasha has contributed a short story to the prestigious quarterly art journal The White Review. ‘If Not, Not’ is about two internet daters, and can be found online in the fiction section of The White Review.
Listen to Natasha being interviewed at Edinburgh International Book Fair in a special edition of the Scottish Book Trust’s Book Talk programme. She speaks at 21 minutes into the podcast, following Kate Summerscale and Nick Harkaway.
My first encounter with Paul et Virginie was as an object – my mother’s old edition in French with beautiful engravings. I loved to look at it as a kid and would make up stories around the illustrations – some of these images have been reproduced inGenie and Paul. My mother told me the story of Paul et Virginie, but it wasn’t until I could read enough French that I came to know Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s text.
Read Natasha’s exclusive interview with London bookseller Foyles,in full here.
I see now that a writing retreat is productive only if removing yourself from a life so full of distraction that you need the isolation in order to focus on your work. But if you are the kind of writer who doesn’t do much of a day to merit this or any other job title, two weeks on a remote Scottish island will not help you chip away at your writer’s block. And if you share that retreat and the remote Scottish isolation with your best and most annoying friend, also a writer and also suffering from writer’s block, writing is probably the last thing either of you will do.
Read Natasha’s ‘Five-minute memoir’, as published in the Independent magazine.
Natasha Soobramanien was born and grew up in London, but also lived for a time in both Hong Kong and Hastings. She currently lives in London.
She studied English at the University of Hull and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She stayed on after her MA to do a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing, for which she submitted an early draft of Genie and Paul (Myriad, 2012), a retelling (or ‘cannibalistic translation’) of the French eighteenth-century classic Paul et Virginie by Bernardin de Saint Pierre.
While at UEA, Soobramanien met fellow writer Luke Williams, to whose debut novel The Echo Chamber she contributed two chapters. Her contribution was well-received: the Guardian described it as ‘quirky, aggressive, funny, demotic… a rollicking read’, while the New York Times praised its ‘ebullience and erotic fizz’, and the Sunday Times named both Soobramanien and Williams ‘talented writers to watch’. The novel went on to win the 2011 Saltire Award for Best First Book. The two writers are now collaborating on a novel, Diego Garcia, which tells the history of the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago, from its origins in myth to its present status as British colony, US military base and appropriated homeland of the Chagossian Islanders.