A DRINK WITH… BALLI KAUR JASWAL
The Singaporean novelist on giving a voice to the marginalised in society
or as long as she loved reading about imaginary worlds, Balli Kaur Jaswal enjoyed writing about them, too. One of the Singaporean author’s favourite books when she was younger was Roald Dahl’s Matilda, “which had this wonderful mixture of reality and magic that made the real world a less daunting place for a kid”. She was also attracted to how American writer Judy Blume’s fictional characters always speak the truth in her stories, and this would later inspire Balli’s own stories. “My main inspiration to write fiction has always been to create a world of truth, where the underdog triumphs because we don’t see enough of that in reality,” says the Generation T 2017 honouree, who has three books under her belt with one more on the way. Balli taps on her own experiences for her writing—her internationally acclaimed 2017 release, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, for instance, reflected her Punjabi upbringing and touched on controversial topics such as arranged marriages and honour killings. Her next book, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, which hits stores in April, will deal with issues including cultural representation in the media. In a way, she says, “writing stories is empowering because it’s my chance to set the world right”.