The Next Chapter·Proust Questionnaire

Rabindranath Maharaj reveals his heroes and greatest achievement

The acclaimed novelist takes The Next Chapter's version of the Proust questionnaire.
Fatboy Fall Down is the latest novel by Rabindranath Maharaj. (CBC, ECW Press)

This interview originally aired on June 1, 2019.

Trinidadian-Canadian novelist Rabindranath Maharaj has won the Trillium Book Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal.

His books include The Amazing Absorbing BoyAdjacentland, and, most recently, Fatboy Fall DownFatboy Fall Down chronicles one man's struggles through life, as he tries to understand the world from the margins of society. 

Maharaj took The Next Chapter's version of the Proust questionnaire. 

What is your favourite occupation?

"Apart from writing, I would say it's gardening. I just like the peace and the solitude of being alone among plants and watching them grow and die and so on."

What is your favourite journey? 

"My favourite journeys took place when I was about eight or nine. My father would pile me and my siblings in his car and we would head to the drive-in. The conversations we had and this sense of hope depicted in the movie we were going to see, it's something that stuck in my mind after all these years."

Who are your favourite heroes in real life? 

"My favourite hero in real life is my mother. Her own mother died when she was about 11, and she was taken out of school to take care of her family. She then married when she was 17 or 18 and once again she had to take care of her family. I think she may have given up in life, but when she was about 70 years old, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"My mother took over all of the committees and organizations that my father had run simply because the villagers liked continuity and because my mother had access to all the log books and so on. The men in the village didn't take too kindly to this so they dropped out. One by one, she replaced these positions with women so that when she died a little over a year ago, all of these organizations and groups and committees were headed by women."

On what occasions do you lie? 

"I believe I lie when I'm trying to give hope to someone. If, for instance, I believe that someone is lacking confidence in some matter or some issue, I will say things to them that are not necessarily true just to boost their confidence."

Where would you like to live? 

"In a seaside village. It could be anywhere Tobago, Trinidad, Newfoundland or Greece. But I must have a view of the ocean and I imagine myself looking at the sun sink in over the ocean with a drink in my hand."

What is your greatest achievement? 

"My greatest achievement I believe or I hope is still to come. And if I stop believing in this at some point, it's quite likely I would stop writing."

Rabindranath Maharaj's comments have been edited for clarity and length. 




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