Surinder Deol

My commitment to life is best described by a quote from Taoist classic Tao Te Ching: “Be the valley of the universe so all things will come to you.” I take pride in calling myself a poet, a novelist, an explorer, and an armchair philosopher.


Three things people don’t know about you?

I present a popular monthly TV program called "Khushboo" consisting of poetry and songs for South Asian audiences in the greater Washington Area.

What’s your greatest fear?

Great books will be written but there would be no readers to read them. Reason: Current generation’s obsession with the social media.

What is your greatest achievement?

Translation of an Urdu classic Divan-e-Ghalib into American free verse [The Treasure: A Modern Rendition of Ghalib’s Lyrical Love Poetry. 2014. New Delhi: Partridge India.]

High point of your life?

Every day when I get up and get to my day’s work.

Low point of your life

When I allow myself to think that my contribution will not make a difference.

Which living person do you most admire?

I admire every living person who speaks with conviction about the urgent need to save the planet from destruction.

Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Zorba the Greek

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

No one in particular

Who are your favorite authors?

Nikos Kazantzakis, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

INDIAN: Divan-e-Ghalib (Mirza Ghalib), Stories (Manto), Gul-e Naghma (Firaq Gorakhpuri), Aag Ka Dariya (Quratulain Haider), Train to Pakistan (Khushwant Singh) WESTERN: To Kill a Mocking Bird (Harper Lee), Fountainhead (Ayn Rand), A Passage to India (EM Forster), Sophie’s Choice (William Styron), As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner)

Is there a book you love to reread?

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What are your 5 favorite movies of all time?

Bollywood: Shatranj Ke Khilari, Swami, Kaaghaz Ke Phuul, Pyaasa, Veer-Zara Hollywood: The Godfather, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Annie Hall, Sound of Music, Titanic, What if?

One Superpower you wish you had?

The power to eradicate extreme forms of poverty everywhere in the world.

Your epitaph would read? /Last line in your biography would be?

Not ready for Nirvana. Not yet but tried.

If you had a time machine to take you back to any country and any time period, where would you choose to be for your childhood, adolosent , adult life and silver years?

When Ashoka was emperor of India and Buddhism was the dominant belief system in India.

If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

To be a good ghazal singer like Jagjit Singh.

Which book you wish you had written ?

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

When and where do you write ?

My study that faces a very quiet street.

Silence or music?


One phrase that you use most often?

What’s new in this work/movie/book?

Do you have a writing ritual / superstition?

Think of a dream I had the previous night.

What’s your guilty reading pleasure?

Reading Zen and Taoist texts.

Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

Ghalib told his disciples: Before you start to write poetry, first try to nurture a molten heart (dil-e gudakhta). I would say the same. Also write with the conviction that your work will make a difference.

Surinder Deol was born in India and moved to the United States in 1983 to work for the World Bank in Washington, D.C. His collection of poems, A Moment In The Universe was published in 2006. His book The Treasure: A Modern Rendition of Ghalib’s Lyrical Love Poetry, published in 2014, received critical acclaim from leading academics and Ghalib scholars. Endless Life is his first novel. He lives in Potomac, Maryland.

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