Meet a Grubbie: Shubha Sunder

GrubStreet runs on coffee, printer ink, and community. This series features just some of the Grubbies who make our community strong. In this first, meet new Grub instructor Shubha Sunder. Shubha's fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Crazyhorse, where it won the 2015 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize; Narrative Magazine, where it was a winner of “30 Below;” Michigan Quarterly Review; and The Bangalore Review. Don't miss Shubha teaching Fiction II, starting January 12th, 2017.


What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?

Elena Ferrante. I just want to thank her for having written the Neapolitan Novels and Days of Abandonment. I am blown away by the sheer force of her narratives, and by the emotional truth of her characters and relationships, all complex and startling.

What favorite book of yours was made into a movie, which did you like better, and why?

A book I found perplexing in my twenties was Ondaatje’s The English Patient. While I enjoyed the novel, it felt vague to me. I couldn’t figure out who or what was at the center. I loved the movie more because it focused the story on the relationship between Katherine and Almásy. And in what I consider one of the most beautiful scenes in all of cinema, Hana, played by Juliette Binoche, swings on a rope past fire-lit frescos in a bombed-out monastery. It makes me gasp every time I see it.

How do you beat a bout of writer's block?

I don’t really believe in writer’s block. Or I guess I should say I don’t think it’s a bad thing when you’re stuck—it means you are wrestling with something important. I like to wrestle for a while and then let go, take a hot shower or a walk, and then come back. If I’m still stuck, then I let it go for a longer stretch of time, maybe a few days or even weeks, while I work on something else.

What are you reading?

I’m always reading Tolstoy in between other writers. War And Peace lives on my nightstand. I reread Hadji Murad recently and was struck yet again by how relevant it is today.

Favorite drink?

Coffee, of course! First thing in the morning, strong, with milk.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Anything by Paul Simon.

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