Author speak: Nickunj Malik on Talespin

Daily dramas, twists and swirls of life

  • Ambica Gulati

All the world’s a stage, that’s what came to my mind when I began reading Talespin. Story after story from this stage popped out, from the author falling sick to learning to sew a button, finding anti-ageing creams, looking young and more. Talespin is Nickunj Malik’s debut novel and as she is a journalist, it is a compilation of her 100 best columns published across various newspapers in the Middle East and South Africa. She lives and works in Jordan and is in Delhi for the book’s launch which will happen on January 17, 2015. 
Also, I feel, though I have yet to ask her, I think she chose cartoons to illustrate her writings because you can’t be in the media and not take a wholesome view of life. Content and pictures are hand in glove for any journalist, the visual has to give strength to the words and vice versa. The credit for the funny illustrations goes to Osama Hajjaj, Jordan’s leading cartoonist.
Talespin is a daily dose of laughter, our everyday life which keeps us fit and fine. There are no tall fantasy tales and no great claims. Moreover Malik is someone who loves to meet and talk, so she can get more stories and I can get more masala for my posts. But I think I will be able to meet her on the book launch. In the meanwhile let me share our email interaction. Excerpts:

Your columns are a daily dose from daily situations. What keeps the creative juices flowing?
I am a compulsive writer and I see everything, every daily occurrence, through a prism of imaginative writing. In a given day, there are at least 10 times my fingers itch to do a story on what I see happening around me. Life supplies me with an endless amount of subject matter. All that I do is follow that creative impulse.

What kind of writing inspires and interests you?
I like travel books, autobiographies and humour writing. I love reading two books at the same time, one sober and the other comic. Sir V S Naipaul and Bill Bryson are my all time favourites.

How does journalism vary from country to country? How different is it in the Middle East from journalism in India?
Journalism in the Middle East Gulf countries is very restrictive. We do not have the freedom of press that is enjoyed by Indian journalists. Certain subjects are taboo, such as religion, the Royal family, and so on. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where I have been based for the last four years is a bit more liberal but it is better to steer clear of controversial topics, especially for foreign writers.
South Africa, where I lived immediately after apartheid was removed, was absolutely clueless about my home country India. In 1997, the journalists there would ask me if we had any schools or colleges in India. I had to go around educating a lot of them and clear many erroneous preconceived notions.

How do people react to your columns there?
People react to my witty columns there in the same way as they do here, with expressions of delight. They look forward to them week after week and some of my readers are addicted to them and get upset with me if I am sick and unable to pen one.

In the foreword, Farrukh Dhondy has written that he will never blog, but what about you?
Farrukh Dhondy will never blog, that’s true. As for me personally, I have not blogged till now because I am used to being paid for what I write. But my philosophy has always been ‘never say never’.

How important is the digital medium in today’s time?
The digital world is important, of course. It would be foolish not to admit that. Everyone, including our current Prime Minister Narendra Modi is digitally connected. But I can’t say if it has become more important that the print media which has its own niche that will not die an untimely death very soon, hopefully.

Not many women can take their world in this light manner. Are we going to see more humour in the future works too?
I take the role of being a humorist very seriously and my next book will be a novel written with tongue firmly in cheek.

About Nickunj Malik
Nickunj Malik's journalistic career began when she walked into the Khaleej Times office in Dubai, 22 years ago and got the job. Since then, her articles have appeared in various
newspapers including Star (South Africa), Business Times (Tanzania), Bahrain Tribune (Bahrain) and Jordan Times (Jordan), where she was a weekly contributor.  
Nickunj grew up in India and pursued her Masters degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh. She is presently based in Amman, married to a
Banker and has one daughter. She likes to spend her leisure hours singing, reading and going for long walks.

Book details
Publisher: Ocean Books
Price: INR 450
Pages: 310


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