Home / Literature / Swimmer Among the Stars
Play Video

Swimmer Among the Stars

Facebook Linkedin twitter Pinterest Google Plus E-mail this link to a friend.

Author, Kanishk Tharoor:

As Kanishk Tharoor wins the 2016 Tata Lit Live! First Book Award for his debut, Swimmer Among the Stars, we revisit our interview with him earlier in the year. From journeying along Alexander’s adventures with the Chinese to riding rockets and elephants and feeling the loneliness of a college student in a foreign country, the 12 stories are spread across space-time. Each differs from the other yet the intrigue and fantasy that surround these and the tone in which he tells the tales connect them seamlessly.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? When did your romance with the written word begin?
I grew up mostly in New York City in a home steeped in books [in addition to his political career, my father is a writer, and my mother is a professor of literature]. Writing seemed like a fairly natural and obvious thing to do with my time even when I was small. Both my twin brother Ishaan and I were constantly composing stories at a very young age [six or seven], and that’s carried through into our careers, which are focused around writing. Ishaan is a journalist at The Washington Post where he writes brilliantly about international affairs. I have a less pedigreed background in journalism, but more recently I’ve devoted myself to fiction. Swimmer Among the Stars is my first book.

What authors and books influenced you, growing up?
Too many to list here probably! We grew up on some conventional English children’s literature like Enid Blyton and Biggles [my father’s favourite] and The Lord of the Rings [my uncle read that to Ishaan and me when we were toddlers], but I’m grateful for some of the more adventurous literatures foisted on us at a young age. My mother would read to us from the Shahnamah—the Persian book of kings—and from Russian folklore and Greek mythology and the Mahabharata. That gave us a wonderfully open outlook, and really prepared us for our own voyages into literature.

You have been writing since a long time and have been published around the world—when did you decide that it was time for your debut book? What inspired the collection of short stories?
I don’t know if there’s a single inspiration for the collection. The stories all had rather separate births, emerging from different ideas and experiments. I’m happy they found a home together under the roof of the collection. These stories accumulated over time. The oldest I wrote when I was 18 or 19 [over a decade ago] and the most recent was written last spring. They naturally touch on different subjects because my particular interests have shifted a little bit over time. But I think they’re united by their tone and the style of their telling.

MORE IN Literature

A graphic story written and illustrated by Aindri Chakraborty

All That We Want - The Gaysi Zine

The fifth edition of The Gaysi Zine embarks on a journey to explore the unchartered realm of queer desires, and

Interview of the Week: Ira Trivedi

Ira Trivedi

Nikhil and Riya Award-winning Journalist. Bestselling Writer. Master of Yoga. Ira Trivedi is probably one of the most interesting writers from

Knives & Ink

Knives and Ink

Knives & Ink takes the clichéd story of the tattooed chef and turns it on its head. Authored by Isaac

Interview of the Week: George Saunders

George Saunders

‘I had really decided that I didn’t care to ever write a novel,’ starts one of the world’s most beloved

Himanshu and Aqui

Bombay Zine Fest at Kochi

The independent and alternative publishing scene and the zines that are born out of it tell us a lot about the

The Horizon Is An Imaginary Line

The Horizon Is An Imaginary Line

‘We are all migrants in one way or another. Some of us have personal histories of travel and movement, others

In God We Trust


Munem Wasif

The Artist  I was born in Bangladesh in 1983 and I studied at the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka,







A white oxford shirt reinterpreted with a diaphanous accordion detail; a monochrome jumpsuit with a cape for an accent; an

A still from Kaash



Ishaan Nair, Director The Filmmaker The new director in Mira Nair’s family, Ishaan has been working after his degree in direction and

Interview of the Week: Jesse Veverka


Jesse Veverka

Passfire All around the world, fireworks are synonymous with celebration. People from different parts of the world may speak different languages

Rush by Mali


Rush by Mali

When Maalavika Manoj aka Mali started strumming her own tunes she found inspiration in long-lost friendships, memories of home and