Reshma Ruia on Multiculturalism in Manchester

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On a sunny day in early November, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the award winning author, Reshma Ruia, to chat about her new novel ‘Still Lives.’ We met at Mercado, whose new owner, Steven, has expanded the scope of this gorgeous deli still further and will now be opening later in the day. It was the perfect spot to meet as Reshma will be speaking at Mercado on December 1st about the themes in her new novel, multiculturalism and the way Manchester has changed in recent years. If you would like to attend then please check out all the event details HERE.

Reshma grew up in Rome, but travelled a great deal as her father was a diplomat. This life experience has all been brought to the fore in her novels; as she says: “being an outsider is a gift for a writer… the key is observing with compassion.” Always creative, she was encouraged to do a more ‘useful’ degree and found herself studying economics – although the passion for literature was always there.

She met her partner in Paris while working for the UN and travelled to Manchester 28 years ago. When asked if she feels at home here, she explains how the city seems to have grown with her and evolved over the years. She describes the city as a welcoming ‘melting point’ where people can come together. Not to mention the historical link that exists with India, united by the cotton trade.

On moving here, she gave herself permission for a fresh start – pursuing a masters and then a PhD in creative writing. Her excitement at having worked with authors like Martin Amis and Michael Schmidt is palpable and it is clear how seriously she’s always taken her craft. Other authors who’ve inspired her include Elizabeth Strout and Raymond Carver – all of whom conduct a deep dive into characters motivations and emotions. Reshma is a big believer in what she describes as ‘quiet writing’, where readers have the opportunity to get to know a character and enter their world.

She first published a collection of short stories and of poems that prompt the reader to reflect on their identities and question how they would act in different circumstances. Her latest novel, ‘Still Lives’ dissects the male point of view, from a moment when the protagonist is exploring significant life transitions. Her novel is written in the present tense so that we never have a sense of hindsight, we move through the narrative, guided by an unreliable narrator. At every stage, she wants the reader to be asking themselves: how would I have acted?

The novel explores what it means to be a man in today’s society, multiculturalism, and centres around our beloved home city: Manchester. For the opportunity to hear her speak and ask questions about her writing then grab your ticket HERE.

Reshma

Pssst: keep this to yourself, but it’s rumoured her next piece will be a crime novel so keep an eye out for that!

Keep an eye on her website for more information: https://reshmaruia.com/