BackStory: Four Questions with Ranjabali Chaudhuri

New Market, Kolkata, 1944

BackStory: Four Questions with Ranjabali Chaudhuri
Author of Windows

What inspired you to write ‘Windows’?

Christmas! Just walking on Oxford Street with those grand, dreamy displays sends you to another world doesn’t it? And they have been there for years so naturally it makes one wonder what it must have been all those years ago? Or if they had always had the same effect on people?

Who are your favourite historical fiction writers?

Hilary Mantel of course! Also Philippa Gregory and Abir Mukherjee.

How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?

I had to go back to the textbooks a bit to get a sense of the time and place. I had heard that it was an unfair time, racism being a cornerstone of the colonial administration. But going back and rediscovering how much of this was enabled by the local population doing their jobs makes you realise that not everything can be labelled in black and white.

If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?

I would love to go back to pre-history. To the time when the invented flints and wheels and discovered how the world worked one day at a time.

Ranjabali Chaudhuri’s work has previously appeared in The Timeworn Literary Journal, Literary Orphans and The Horla Magazine among others. She lives in London.

Image of New Market, Kolkata in 1944 from a postcard with photograph attributed to Gene Whitt.