In conversation with Joe D’Cruz

Sudha G Tilak | Updated on November 24, 2017

Author Joe D'Cruz. Photo: S.S. Kumar   -  SS Kumar

In an interview, Joe D’Cruz seems unfazed about the controversy, or that it has cost him the English translation of Aazhi Soozh Ulagu.

Your books, for which you have won recognition, are about the history and culture of fishing communities in southern Tamil Nadu. Your political support for Modi seems to be at odds with that.

I am a humanist; I do not support Hindutva. My heart and support are for the dispossessed and the coastal communities for the hardships they have endured through centuries.

Your declaration of support for Modi on Facebook has cost you the translation of your first novel Aazhi Soozh Ulagu.

I am a citizen of a sovereign and democratic India and it’s my personal view that Modi — who has emerged from the lower rungs of society — will understand the needs of the rural and urban poor and can usher in economic prosperity.

Economic prosperity is not the only benchmark of a leader’s worth. He is accused of the killings in 2002 in Gujarat.

The courts have given him a clean chit. Manmohan Singh ushered in economic liberalisation, but today he’s due to retire, and perhaps, Modi must be given a chance during these days of global economic hardships.

How do you respond to the retraction by your translator V Geetha and the withdrawal by Navayana?

I’m not a stranger to resistance. Following the publication of Aazhi Soozh Ulagu, I could not visit my village, Uvari, because I was receiving threats from those who accused me of using foul language in my book. A court case that I denigrated the Christian community is up for hearing this month. It’s a sad turn of events with this publisher, but there are other fish in the sea.

What’s your opinion about the condemnation you have received for your political leanings?

This is about the freedom of expression. If there’s place for their political or ideological stand, which I respect, there’s place for my personal liberty and views. My hope for Modi to deliver coexists with my respect for V Geetha’s passion and commitment.

What next?

Another long day at work; and a longer night of writing, for sure.

Sudha G Tilak is a Delhi-based journalist

Published on April 25, 2014

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