When I first learned about Ru Freeman’s debut novel A Disobedient Girl on the TLC website, I knew immediately I wanted to read it. I love literary fiction set in foreign countries, and the author’s background as a political activist and journalist interested me. I was not disappointed. A Disobedient Girl is an amazing work of literary fiction (read my review). Many thanks to Lisa at TLC who was instrumental in putting this book into my hands.
Ru Freeman was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She arrived in the United States to attend Bates College in Maine, and later returned to Sri Lanka where she completed her Masters in Labor Relations at the University of Colombo, and worked in the field of American and international humanitarian assistance and workers’ rights. Her political writing has appeared in English and in translation. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, Story Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, WriteCorner Press, Kaduwa and elsewhere and has been nominated for the Best New American Voices anthologies in 2006 and 2008. A Disobedient Girl is her first novel. Read more about Ru Freeman and follow links to interviews with her on her website (I especially found this interview with Bookslut to be fascinating).
Other links to articles and stories by this author you might be interested in reading:
- A poignant article about the 2004 Tsunami which struck Sri Lanka.
- Jesse’s Story
- What Could Be Said About Pedris Road
- Ru Freeman has written many journalism and opinion pieces. Links to those articles may be found on her website on this page.
I was thrilled when Ms. Freeman agreed to write a guest post for Caribousmom. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have. I was also ecstatic when I was asked to write a guest post for the author’s blog – you can read what I wrote by visiting Ru Freeman’s blog today.
Thinking Aloud About Time and Space
By Ru Freeman
There is at least as much difference of opinion regarding work-space for writers, as there are types of writers. Some need vast chunks of time, others need vast expanses of space, still others need to be surrounded by books while a few want nothing but themselves and their computer, typewriter or pen and page. Having grown up in a small country, in a small house with lots of people in it – both permanent inhabitants and routine transients – I find myself unable to reconcile my need for space and quiet and solitude with the fact that all three of those things are luxuries for most people on the planet. And yet, lately, the writer that I am has been craving exactly what the activist in me scorns.
First, there has been the inevitable travel associated with the publication of a book. The people and event seeking activist rushes out with glee to book signings, readings, panels, classes and discussions. Any chance to be out in the world, to be involved with its shenanigans, to impinge upon its course in some way is manna from heaven to her. But the writer that I am cringes in horror. My new novel hovers, untended in the not so recent past, my essays and short fiction go untouched, deadlines pass before my glazed eyes as though they are part of someone else’s life, my blog is turning into an embarrassment, and my sole claim to fame is the maniacal update of my Facebook status with which, I apparently hope to restore my reputation as a writer. Ugh.
Then there is the matter of publicity. Gone are the days when a writer wrote a book, sent it forth to make its way in the world, turned her back upon it and set herself to the task of writing something new. In a culture where literature is placed and marketed just as strenuously as the latest beauty product or electronic gadget, the writer is as much a part of the book and its package as is its cover and content. I empathize with my publisher who has to tussle and wrangle alongside all the other publishers in order to make my career as a writer successful and rewarding. But in the end the writing, which was the reason for being out with a book in the first place, begins to take a back seat to the performance of being The Writer. There goes that other block of time, eaten up by emails and phone calls hither and yon to booksellers and publicists and event coordinators and festival organizers and series curators and reviewers etc. etc.
I would not trade in the position of being a published author for the one of being an unpublished one, but I wish someone had told me that there is no freedom quite as assured, for a writer, as that time when you are still writing that first novel. I would have used that time a little better. I might have written longer, revised more, taken a few more risks. Or perhaps I wouldn’t have. Perhaps, like most women, I would have rushed full tilt toward the future, rearranging the rest of my life to make room for the most pressing need of the day be it writing my novel or supporting a political campaign or helping a village raise its children. Perhaps where I find myself now is all there ever is, just the same as it is for anybody else; this present moment, its own reality and the challenge that we remember to be grateful while we try to make the best of it.