The Apex Book of World SF 4: Author Spotlight - Vajra Chandrasekera

The Apex Book of World SF 4 edited by Mahvesh Murad is coming in late August. Between now and then, we would like to feature some of the contributors in the anthology.

Vajra Chandrasekera lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and his short stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Black Static, among others.

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Tell us a little about your story in The Apex Book of World SF 4.

"Pockets Full of Stones" was my first published story. It's a first-contact story, which seems in hindsight like a very suitable opening gambit to the game of zines. Stanislav Petrov was in the news a lot while I was writing it (they were gearing up to give him another award, I think) and you can see that in the story quite clearly; Dike, like Petrov, unexpectedly finds herself with a world-altering decision in her hands.

Why do you feel it is important to read stories from around the globe? 

I like to think that any reader's natural instinct is to read widely, to explore and discover new worlds and new minds, because at the root that's why people read fiction in the first place. So to subvert this instinct, to not read stories from around the globe, is a political act. Obviously you should not read fiction that doesn't interest you, but if you don't even give yourself the opportunity to become intrigued, then you're reading narrowly by choice. Which seems like such a masochistic practice, and not in the fun way. 

If you could tell people to read one author from your home country, who would it be and why?

It would definitely be Sivamohan Sumathy, particularly her 2008 book like myth and mother, a small collection of poetry and prose. People give Stanislav Petrov awards because of the big war that didn't start in 1983, but that was also the year that the Sri Lankan civil war started. A small war by comparison, but wars are always bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. Sumathy's book is a map to that inside, if you like: not the merely informational kind of map that a tourist might find useful, but the kind that's also a territory in its own right. I highly recommend it, and I think there's a good chance we'll be seeing an ebook version in the near future, so do keep an eye out for that.

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