Interview with Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar

by David Galef

Morsels of Purple is quite an achievement, with 54 flash pieces chronicling the life of an Indian woman in America. Did you have in mind a specific narrative arc or other type of progression?

 I didn’t choose a progression for this collection. This is a mosaic depicting lives of women in different cultures thrown into different situations, living through different stages of relationships. Each story is a swatch in the quilt, sometimes two or three with a similar hue, based on common themes—childlessness, gender discrimination, marriage, desire, abandonment, motherhood—stitched next to each other.

The line between fiction and creative nonfiction is often thin. How closely are we supposed to identify the author with the narrator in your stories?

My fiction is realistic, inspired by real-life circumstances. The main character of the stories in this collection is not me, but the plot is mostly a situation or a place I’ve been in or observed from a close distance. Some stories are conceived in my home, family, or kitchen, then take an imaginary arc and life of their own. People who know me will find fragments of me in many stories, but none of them is purely autobiographical.

Family themes are key to both the collection’s strength and its bittersweet quality. Is that your commentary on father and mothers, offspring and partners, or on relationships in general?

The collection explores not one but many human relationships. More specifically, it is a commentary on the lives of women—daughters, girlfriends, wives, widows, mothers—navigating through difficult moments in the aforementioned roles.

The pieces have poignant endings, usually observations that re-angle the perspective, so to speak. At the risk of sounding disingenuous: How much do you want your audience to read symbolically?

Not to sound clichéd, but in flash fiction there’s more off the page than on it. I meant the endings to be a symbol of acknowledgement or reconciliation or rebuttal that follows the moment of change in the story. Some stories are left open-ended to allow the reader to conjure an ending.

How does Morsels of Purple fit with the rest of your work? What’s your next project?

I’ve been writing flash fiction for the past five years. For this collection, I’ve selected stories where the main characters or protagonists are women. Next is a chapbook that is not a collection but one story told in ten chapters. I’ve submitted it to a few places, waiting for it to be selected for publication. Also, I plan to write a novel someday.

Anything I didn’t ask that you want addressed?

Many of the stories in this book are based in India and are sprinkled with Hindi words and mentions of Indian food. I haven’t appended a glossary of Hindi words at the end of the stories, hoping the context where they occur is clear enough for the readers to interpret their meaning without referring to Google.

Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American writer. Born to a middle-class family in India, she later migrated to the USA. Her work has appeared in Reflex Press, Flash Fiction Online, Kahini, and elsewhere. She has been highly commended in National Flash Microfiction Competition, shortlisted in SmokeLong Quarterly Micro Contest, and shortlisted in Bath Flash Fiction Festival. She is currently an editor at Janus Literary and a submissions editor at SmokeLong Quarterly. Her debut flash fiction collection, Morsels of Purple, is available for purchase on Amazon and in local bookstores. More at Reach her @PunyFingers.

David Galef is the editor in chief of Vestal Review (see masthead).