A writing journey from Trinidad to Japan with author Suzanne Bhagan.
Trinidadian travel and fiction writer Suzanne Bhagan has a strong passion for literature that started when her father gave her books as presents even before she learned to read. After studying law in the UK, she currently lives in Japan where she is working on a novel and a collection of short stories.
Today Suzanne shares with World Kids her creative journey from Trinidad to Japan, her current life in Asia, how she cannot live without “Trini food”, and her passion for the Caribbean literature. I think that you are going to love meeting her too!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Since leaving my country after high school, I’ve been around the globe a bit and back, including going to uni in the UK and traveling to twenty countries. At the moment, I live and work in Japan.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I started scribbling in my diary and composing poetry and short stories when I was in elementary school.
What are you writing right now?
Right now, I am working on a collection of short stories.
You mentioned that “it all started with books”. Are there any particular authors and books that influenced you growing up?
When I was growing up, I was heavily influenced by Enid Blyton. Her work transported me to another world, far different from the one I knew on my tropical island in the Caribbean. Apart from Enid Blyton, I loved reading fairy tales and folktales from around the world.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I like to watch comedies or dramas and read novels.
What books are you currently reading?
Currently, I’m reading a lot of nonfiction. The last book I read was Three Tigers, One Mountain by Michael Booth. It’s about the shared history of China, Japan, and South Korea written in a travelogue style.
You are passionate about Caribbean literature. Could you please recommend to us a list of books and authors that might be a good introduction to this culture?
Sure! If you’d like an introduction to Caribbean literature, I recommend getting into the classics – anything by VS Naipaul, Jamaica Kincaid, Samuel Selvon, and Jean Rhys. There are also contemporary authors you can check out such as Claire Adam, Edwidge Danticat, Kei Miller, and Nalo Hopkinson.
You are from Trinidad but you currently live in Japan. What do you love more about your home and adoption countries?
Both of these countries have their strengths. For instance, the cultural diversity, the biodiversity, and food are fantastic in Trinidad and Tobago. Plus, my family and many of my friends still live there. Japan is nice in that it’s very safe, clean, and convenient. It also has a unique culture that takes time to get to know. The food’s not bad either (smile).
What shops, museums, and restaurants would you recommend to families visiting your city?
If you like literary locations, be sure to visit Jimbocho in Tokyo. It’s a mecca for secondhand books. Although many of the books sold are written in Japanese, you can also find a good selection of English books at Kitazawa bookstore in the area.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
To aspiring writers, my best advice is to get those thoughts on paper. You’d be amazed by how much you can forget
Your best trip ever…
My best trip ever – such a difficult question. What makes a trip great for me is the food. If the food sucks, the trip sucks. Overall, I’ve never been totally disappointed by the food in any destination I’ve visited. There has always been something to save a place for me.