Between the Lines: Subramanian on ‘Writing the Book You Can’t Not Write’
For the latest installment of SEJournal’s author Q & A, “Between the Lines,” Meera Subramanian talks to book editor Tom Henry about the research and writing process behind her debut, “A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis,” a 2016 Orion Book Award finalist that travels from the barren cliffs of Rajasthan to the farmlands of Karnataka.
SEJournal: What inspired you to write “A River Runs Again?”
Meera Subramanian: I have visited India all my life to see my father’s family and couldn’t help but observe how things were done there compared to my home in the United States. I’d be older with each trip, viewing with a new perspective, but India was changing, too, and when the country opened up its economy in the 1990s, that change ramped up to a frantic pace.
But who was getting left behind as the IT boom swept South Asia? Where was this country that is now poised to become the most populous nation on Earth heading in terms of development? What were they doing right and what were they doing wrong in a place where a growing population was colliding with limited natural resources, where everyone wants to satisfy their basic needs — and then some?
But this wasn’t just describing India; it was the state of the entire world. I decided to start with India, a place I could view with the fresh eyes of an outsider but also with a touch of insider knowledge.