Imraan Coovadia

Imraan Coovadia

(South Africa)

Imraan Coovadia, novelist, short story writer, essayist, script-writer and reviewer, was born and raised in a medical family in Durban, though this upbringing was interspersed with year-long sojourns in Birmingham, London, and Melbourne, Australia . He attended Hilton College, outside Pietermaritzburg, and then studied in the United States, first at Harvard where he majored in philosophy and took classes with J.M. Coetzee and later, at Yale as a graduate student in English. Coovadia published his first novel, The Wedding, in 2001. Set in Durban, Bombay, and New York, the widely-reviewed novel, which has been translated into Hebrew and Italian, was the r unner-up in the Sunday Times Fiction Award (2002), long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award, a finalist for the first annual Connecticut Book Award, and short-listed for the Ama-Boeke Prize (2003). Of The WeddingDaniel Mendelsohn, writing in New York Magazine, has commented: “ There are few genres as difficult to bring off as the comic novel of manners, which requires as much compassionate restraint as it does wicked humor. Coovadia’s debut is pretty dreamy; readers should hope for more to come from this real talent”. J.M Coetzee has called the novel “A tender love story, rendered in prose of dazzling comic wizardry”.

Coovadia has s ubsequently published several essays and short stories, and, in June 2006, a second novel, Green-eyed Thieves, which follows a mixed family – one half criminals, the other half philosophers – who begin their career in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, and move onto Pakistan and Brooklyn, New York. The novel was c hosen as Book of the Week by both SAFM and Exclusive Books, and Book of the Month by O Magazine ( South Africa ). Coovadia is currently working on a new novel,Witchcraft, set in Durban, which focuses on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, and a collection of short stories entitled, Old Boys .

He comments: “I don’t know that I have a philosophy of writing. Writing is as various and indefinable by philosophical tools as any serious activity. There are as many reasons to write or to read as there are writers and readers. There are any number of writers who have cast a spell over my own writing: Gunter Grass, Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, Saul Bellow, even William Wordsworth. I often think about the encounters Wordsworth describes with characters like the leech-gatherer in his poem “Resolution and Independence ” or the imaginary Arab horseman who holds a stone and a shell in the apocalyptic dream in the Prelude . I like the fact that these encounters are intensely meaningful without it quite being clear what their meaning is. I can’t think of a better definition of interesting writing.” Coovadia has been teaching at the University of Cape Town since January this year


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