Elaine Chiew on The Heartsick Diaspora with Jessica Tay

Q: Most of the endings in this collection are open ended or very loose. Could you share with us why you decided to do so?

Elaine Chiew: E.M. Forster says, “The plot-maker expects us to remember; we expect him to leave no loose ends.” Realistic short stories (as a genre), however, by nature of the format, aren’t so much about plot as they are about change. The change is often in the heart, minute or invisible; in a hidden glance, a small gesture, a sudden apprehending, sometimes even a withdrawal. Even stasis, a character refusing to admit emotional change when a situation has changed, is a fundamental shift in psyche. The best short stories are windows into lived lives, and neatly tied endings would, in the end, do the reader a disservice because they are gimmicky and not true to real life. Our lives don’t consist of neatly tied chapter-by-chapter anecdotes or stories, do they?

The Heartsick Diaspora author Elaine Chiew is interviewed by book blogger Jessica Tay (AKA Endless Chapters on Instagram). Read the interview in full now.