Sandip Roy explores secrets and sexuality in talk3 min read
Manipal: Acclaimed author Sandip Roy gave his account of ‘Family and Sexuality’, at Gangubai Hanagal Auditorium, at the Manipal International Literature and Arts Platform (MILAP) on September 16.
The author of the Bloomsbury India classic, ‘Don’t Let Him Know’, addressed the crowd on the significance of relationships and secrets in literature, and spoke about the experiments conducted with the concept of queer literature, in relation to his novel.
Starting the session with a passage from his novel where the protagonist discovers that her husband has had a relationship with a man in the past, he clarified that book was not based on homosexuality. Instead, it explores family secrets and the underlying complexities in what seems like a simple, harmonious exterior.
Set in Kolkata and the USA, the novel centers around the lives of Romola, Avinash, her husband and their son, Amit. While the story is entirely fictional, there are parts of the plot that are influenced by his own personal experiences.
Elaborating on how secrets are an interesting component of our lives, he also spoke about the nuances they add to a piece of writing. “I wanted the idea of secrets which are well the beneath the circus of an ordinary, classic middle-class family. I didn’t necessarily think of it as a coming out book as I was always more interested in how Romola was reacting to discover that her husband had the past with a man than in Avinash’s coming out the story,” he said.
Roy also elucidated on how we have narrowed down the definition of out coming out to a very binary concept, whereas in reality, this notion is circumstantial. It may not stand out as a moment but may be conveyed with subtlety.
“I probably had a much harder time coming out to my family regarding the fact that I have given up my job as a software engineer and instead decided to be a writer than I did telling them that I wouldn’t get married or that I am gay,” he said.
With the media have become very flexible and ‘cool’ with the idea of LGBT rights, he explained that we are hopefully approaching a future where queer characters in novels are almost as flat as heterosexual roles.
Addressing the concept of tokenization and stereotyping in writing, he said, “For me, as a writer, I feel that it would become tripling if I was constantly paralyzed by those labels. I hope I am free to choose the things I write about.”
In addition to queer issues, he also stressed on the relationship dynamics, lifestyle and habits of an ordinary family, and expounded on problems of social pressure, reading out passages from his novel which dealt with the same.
When asked about the event, Vaidehi, a first-year student from Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities, said “It’s important to talk about issues such as coming out and LGBT rights. I feel there should be a little mystery in every novel, so I agreed with the point he put forward regarding secrets.”
Edited By: Shriya Ramakrishnan
Featured image courtesy: Niharika Nambiar.