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My interview with Kevin Jared Hosein

Posted: July 1st, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Column | No Comments »

Kevin Jared Hosein, the TT writer who has won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Caribbean Region for the second time in 2018. Photo courtesy Trinidad & Tobago Newsday/ Xavier Sylvester

 

I didn’t get to use these bits of my interview with TT writer Kevin Jared Hosein, which was published in the T&T Newsday today. I thought other people might be as taken with them as I was, so here they are.

 

On being a young writer: “I remember when I was about 13, 14, me and my parents was driving. I was in the back seat. I get this idea. I say I want to be like Mark Twain. I don’t even like Mark Twain. I was like, I think I could do this – not really knowing the actual work that would go into it, or what the Caribbean literary scene was like.

“You know those little Illustrated Classics? I thought they were cool, so I think I did ask my dad to bring some paper from work. I take a scissors and I cutting up all… I had to Scotch tape it together to make my own. I never finish it. I just know I wanted a book.”

On how Portia Subran, his fiancee, was the first to push him to publish the novel he wrote in spite of himself:

“She said, ‘You’re a writer?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ She’s like, ‘Well, send me something.’ So I sent her The Repenters. She’s like, “You’s a real writer! This real good! What you going to do with it?’ She said, ‘You have to do something with this.’

“As a teen you have real ambition but I think once you turn 18 you just kind of stop caring: ‘You’s a big man now. Go and get a real job.’ I kinda believe it for a time; I stopped writing for a time. Throughout much of UWI I didn’t really write, only coming towards the end when I realise, ‘You know, I ent really remember anything from the degree.’ I just randomly start back writing because of the VS Naipaul thing. I was like, ‘Well, VS Naipaul full of shit.’”

 

 

On being an angry teen: “When I was 11, 12, I got very angry. I don’t know it was hormones; all of a sudden I just start getting vex with everything. Going to an all-boys school is…aargh… escpecially when you want to be a writer… is this girly thing, writing poetry, make fun of you for doing that… just a lot of things make me vex, on the whole, that included.”

 

On the work of writing while being a teacher: “It’s a hobby-job. I don’t see it as a full-time job. I try to treat it like one. I do try to write almost every single day. I am my own boss, which can be kind of tough because you have to have a lot of discipline. After I publish a work, I don’t write anything. I take two months’, three months’ break. I don’t want to see it like a job because to me job is negative. I make money from it, I love doing it. I don’t know if I could make a living off it. I think if I had a mentor it would be different.

“My actual teaching job, they never hold back. My school understand my situation; I need a lot of time to myself.  Now is when I do most of my stuff, the summer. If I have to go anywhere they don’t make any fuss. The support helps.”

 

My selfie with Kevin at the Adult Literacy Tutors Association Readings Under the Trees in March, 2018