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Interview With Pratap Reddy, Author of “Weather Permitting & Other Stories”

weatherpermittingpratapreddyWe recently sat down with Pratap Reddy to chat about his new collection of short stories, Weather Permitting & Other Stories, which will be released by Guernica this spring.

GE: Pratap Reddy, please tell us about your new book.

PR: Weather Permitting & Other Stories is my first book. It’s a collection of short stories. Most of these stories, in fact, all of them, revolve around the immigrant experience. I came to Canada as an immigrant a little over ten years ago, so I have inserted a lot of my own experiences into these stories. Using different characters of course— it’s not autobiographical. I have many fictional characters around whom I have woven these experiences of being new to Canada.

GE: Would you say that there is a thematic question which the stories in your book focus on?

PR: The stories focus on the immigrant experience, in particular the experience of new immigrants. They are coming from different cultures, different countries, different continents. Most of the characters are from India. They have this set of expectations from the first moment they land, and then they find that there are many unexpected problems and many challenges. No doubt there are many heartwarming things that happen to them too. Notwithstanding that, they face the difficulties of finding the right kind of jobs, their past experience not being taken into account, and their educational qualifications not being given due weightage. So as new immigrants they face a different kind of challenge than immigrants who have been here for some time, who are accustomed to being in Canada, a bit jaded.

GE: How did this question first occur to you?

PR: It’s like this— many of us want to be writers. Perhaps it goes back to the time when, as a child, I enjoyed reading books and somehow thought that I should become a writer. Never mind that nowadays writing is not a very paying profession, but there is this desire. Once I came to Canada as a new immigrant, the challenges I faced gave me a kind of stimulus to think about writing. I then put these down in fictional form, so to speak.

GE: Did the book change significantly from when you first started writing it to the final version?

PR: Pretty much, I should say, because when I first came I would write as we write English in India. So publications of Indian origin in Canada picked up my stories for publication, but not other magazines. But I had the good fortune of my manuscript winning a Diaspora Dialogues contest, where the prize was a mentoring program. My stories improved with the mentoring. When Guernica acquired my book, the editor’s suggestions were also very useful, and I got a grip on the kind of stories that are suited to a Canadian marketplace.

GE: How long did the project take, from start to finish?

PR: Since I came here ten years ago— from the very first day I started to think about writing. I wrote my first short story within the next couple of months.

The stories in Weather Permitting & Other Stories center around new immigrants— spirited people prepared to leave their home and hearth to travel to distant lands in pursuit of dreams of a better life. But often times there’s a reality check, and they are left to grapple with unexpected challenges: cultural shock, lack of Canadian work experience and jobs, absence of affordable daycare, and non-recognition of their educational credentials. Despite this, the stories show the determination of these immigrants to survive on alien soil.

Pratap Reddy moved to Canada from India in 2002. An underwriter by day and a writer by night, he writes about the angst and the agonies (on occasion the ecstasies) of newly arrived immigrants. His stories have been published in Canada, India, and the USA. Weather Permitting & Other Stories is his first collection. He is working on a second volume of short fiction, and a novel. He lives in Mississauga with his wife and son.

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