Romesh Gunasekera's long awaited new novel The Match hits the bookstores this month. The novel, set between Sri Lanka, Manila and London reflects the moves that Gunasekera has made in his own life, and draws on the dislocation he felt growing up in an expatriate environment. But he denies that the novel is autobiographical, and tells Judith Palmer in the Independent that he sets out to use a personal geography, rather than a personal history.
He talks too about his attitude to revising his work, honing and revising until the very last minute - tinkering with the text even after the proof copies have been issued. (Much to the delight of his publisher, I'm sure!)
Some time back when I was researching Gunasekera for the article I wrote for the Star I came across the South Asia Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive which has generously put up some of his drafts online so that we can get an idea of how the text has been written and revised. Among the treasures here: handwritten notes for Monkfish Moon and revisions made to pages from Reef.
Note to self: leave wide margins on all draft copies in future for scribbling changes!
Note to self and everyone else: great writers revise, revise, revise and revise and then maybe revise some more. Mediocre writers (including one or two who've passed manuscripts my way) say "Do I really have to?"