A passenger on a road journey is in the hands of a driver; a reader embarking on a book is in the hands of a narrator.
Sri Lanka is an island that everyone loves at some level inside themselves. A very special island that travellers, from Sinbad to Marco Polo, dreamed about. A place where the contours of the land itself forms a kind of sinewy poetry.
Sri Lanka is a part of my background: it's not where I live, but it's what I want to explore. And I find it works very well to explore through fiction.
At 16, I started reading trashy stuff, anything slightly naughty and risque.
Whether we live in Sri Lanka or Malaysia or India, the U.K. or the U.S., we face similar issues of understanding, remembering the past that has made us and seeing the future we want.
Every Sri Lankan, and almost every visitor to Sri Lanka, carries a longing for the place in some small form - hiraeth, the Welsh call it - wherever they go and whatever their background. It binds them however much the war and politics might try to divide them.
If you are writing something, you automatically create a certain distance. It can be very little. Even within the same city you imaginatively have a certain distance from your subject, and at the same time, you have to have a connection.
Who controls the present controls the past. There's a power structure, if you like, between the present and the past and the future, and that's what I'm interested in.
When I was growing up, I don't think I knew any other child who had been out of Sri Lanka.
Cricket fans all over the world probably have more in common with each other than with their fellow citizens.
I was thinking of writers living in East Europe before the Berlin Wall came down. They wrote fantastic stuff but were dealing with a situation that was almost impossible to deal with, but they found a way.
An aircraft cabin is a place that seems to be nowhere, but I find it steeped in the place left behind and the place ahead.
The nationalist movement supported Sinhala by suppressing Tamil; there were competing nationalisms. It was a fundamental mistake to make parallel streams in education - or a calculated political gamble. Politicians were playing with it.
Writing is incredibly important to me as a way of handling the world, understanding how it works.
Most childhoods are full of anxiety, but that tends to get smoothed over, so you have a sense of nostalgia.
In the sense that writing is to retrieve the past and stop the passing of time, all writing is about loss. It's not nostalgia in the sense of yearning to bring back the past, but recognition of the erosion of things as you live.
For me, there is urgency in fiction, even though writing is, in itself, an act against the corrosiveness of time.
It seems to me that we live in dangerous times all over the world: we have the technology to remember everything but a desire to forget the troubling and to seek the safety of numbness. Fiction can do something about that.
Whether it is better to forget and let wounds heal or remember and learn from the past is a crucial question for all of us, wherever we are.
To my mind, forgetting is a risky strategy for living. Memory is essential to us. It is DNA. We need to remember, and we need to imagine. That's why we have books, writing, fiction.
A novel means a new way of doing a story. If you go back the origins of a novel, 'Clarissa' - that's not a novel; it's just a bunch of letters. But it isn't! Because it's organised in a particular way! A novel is what you make of it.
Language is the means by which we negotiate our relationship with time.
I believe if a sentence is to retain its strength over time, it needs to be carefully made.
People who read fiction are different from other people because they are people who are interested in an imagined world.