2018 BAME Prize: Jason Deelchand Q&A

Jason Deelchand is one of our six shorlisted authors for the 2018 Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize with his story Something Buried in the Ground. Get to know him a little bit better with this Q&A, and find out more about all six shortlisted stories here.

The story: Something Buried in the Ground

A stench invades the historic village of Xīliú and takes residence. As the villagers begin to die, a teenage girl named Liu Fang decides to investigate.

What’s your name?

Jason Shan Deelchand.

Where do you live?

At the moment I live in Bristol, but I also spend time between Bournemouth and Shanghai.

What’s your main occupation?

I’m an English teacher in a secondary school.

Can you remember the title of the first story you ever wrote?

I’m unable to remember any titles from my childhood, but I remember the title of the first story I wrote as a young adult: ‘Just Us,’ which was about purgatory in a jazz club.

What are you reading now?

Thus Were Their Faces, Silvina Ocampo; The Siege of Krishnapur, J.G Farrell; the poetry of Christina Rossetti; and The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

What’s your favourite word?

Thanks.

What’s one book everyone should read?

It depends on the person, I guess. Preferably something that they’ve chosen for themselves!

The Autobiography of Malcolm X would be the one I most recommend. His journey is one of redemption and tragedy, and I took from it the importance of critical-thought, of self-education, and of deconstructing social perspectives, injustices and ideas (individually, as well as collectively).

Which writers have influenced you most?

The writers that have particularly altered my way of seeing a text are: Bruno Schulz, Roberto Bolaño, Toni Morrison, Jorge Luis Borges, Michael Ondaatje, Zadie Smith, and Chinua Achebe.

What’s the most memorable sentence you’ve ever read?

This is very tough. My memory isn’t adept with this kind of retrieval. But recently I read To Sir With Love, by E.R Braithwaite, and I put a post-it on this: ‘I realised at that moment that I was British, but evidently not a Briton, and that fine differentiation was now very important; I would need to re-examine myself and my whole future in terms of this new appraisal.’

Where’s your favourite place to write?

If it’s structured writing, then at a desk at home. I think I’m most productive in a library, though.

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