Thursday, June 22, 2017

Author Sudesna Ghosh speaks about the importance of empathy and writing honestly

Author Sudesna Ghosh

It’s tough to write on a subject that requires sensitive handling! As an author, what do you think are the key elements one has to keep in mind while writing about a sensitive topic?

Writing about a sensitive topic requires two things – empathy and the ability to write honestly. In my
case, writing a book that started with my own experiences of battling negative body image, was not a
challenge because I had these two traits in me. I have always emphasised the need to speak openly about mental health issues even though that definitely scares some people away. But you know, the
people who matter, appreciated my belief and responded to my frankness with empathy and often, opened up about their own mental health concerns.

I have read a great amount of fiction and nonfiction since my childhood and there are two books that
have touched me for the way that the author has handled a sensitive topic; first one is Sons and Lovers, a classic by D.H. Lawrence, and then there is Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary. Sons and Lovers is a must read for anybody keen on understanding psychology and human behavior. The author has handled the mother-son relationship and how it can be unhealthy, to perfection – with
no attempt to sugar coat the dark nature of the bond, and with adequate attention to the feelings of each character involved. In other words, the reader is allowed to visit each character’s mind to understand why the mother is behaving that way and why the son is responding in his way. Clarity and no bias towards any character. A fair representation of both sides of each relationship.

As for Ramona and her Father, it is a children’s book, which any adult can enjoy and love as well. In fact, I re-read it recently. The author focuses on the relationship between a little girl and her father, after he has lost his job. As expected, she worries. A lot. Some people do not understand how deeply children can feel, but if you read this book, you won’t make that mistake again. Cleary has done a fantastic job of sharing with the reader what goes through a child’s mind when her family is in trouble, especially her father. She spends a large part of the story worrying about her father’s smoking habit too, something that hasn’t been covered in any other children’s books I’ve read.

Writing something and writing something that touches the reader are two different tasks. I certainly
hope that I can achieve the latter with Just me, the Sink & the Pot.

About the Author

Sudesna (Sue) Ghosh is a writer based in Kolkata. She was born in the United States and moved to India when she was 9. After completing high school there, she went back to the US for her higher education at University of Rochester. She has also penned What Would I Tell Her @ 13 and News Now, along with several short stories. When Sudesna isn’t writing, she tries to do her bit for animal welfare.

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