"A writer uses a pen instead of a scalpel or blow torch.."
"Anil's Ghost is a pretty serious book, but you do want to have a break."
"Anil's Ghost may be a familiar style to earlier books I've written, but it feels new to me."
"As a writer, one is busy with archaeology."
"I did not expect Anil's Ghost to go off into a twenty or thirty page section in the Grove of Ascetics when I began, but that seemed to be the way the book should go."
"I do know that film is much more visceral, in terms of its effect on the reader."
"I don't have a plan for a story when I sit down to write. I would get quite bored carrying it out."
"I don't see novels ending with any real sense of closure."
"I grew up in a country that was very different - the germs of racism were there then, I just wasn't aware of it."
"I read fiction, a little nonfiction, a little poetry - as various as possible."
"I see the poem or the novel ending with an open door."
"I tend not to know what the plot is or the story is or even the theme. Those things come later, for me."
"I'm a Canadian citizen. But I always want to feel at home in Sri Lanka. I'm a member of both countries."
"In the book the relationship with Katharine and Almasy is sort of only in the patient's mind."
"It doubles your perception, to write from the point of view of someone you're not."
"It's a discovery of a story when I write a book, a case of inching ahead on each page and discovering what's beyond in the darkness, beyond where you're writing."
"It's a responsibility of the writer to get the reader out of the story somehow."
"It's an odd state to be in, blowing the whistle on your home country."
"It's why you create characters: so you can argue with yourself."
"Once I've discovered the story, I might restructure it, maybe move things around, set up a clue that something is going to happen later, but that happens much later in an editorial capacity."
"One of the metaphors was the burial and stealing of Buddhist statues, how they get stolen and buried, unearthed and resold. Like human life, a metaphor for human life."
"Prose is much more public; I would like it to be as private, intimate, casual, not structured as poetry, not having an agenda."
"Research can be a big clunker. It's difficult to know how you can make the historical light."
"Right now, I have no idea what I will write or if I will write again."
"That's Anil's path. She grows up in Sri Lanka, goes and gets educated abroad, and through fate or chance gets brought back by the Human Rights Commission to investigate war crimes."
"The last three books are much more a case of a moment of history, what happened almost by accident or coincidence, like being in the same elevator or lifeboat."
"To write about someone like myself would be very limiting."
"Truth, at the wrong time, can be dangerous."
"When I was writing Billy the Kid, all I had was the question, How do I write this book? That's always the question."
"When you're writing, it's as if you're within a kind of closed world."
"You don't want to write your own opinion, you don't want to just represent yourself, but represent yourself through someone else."
"You want to suggest something new, but at the same time, resolve the drama of the action in the novel."
"You're getting everyone's point of view at the same time, which, for me, is the perfect state for a novel: a cubist state, the cubist novel."