Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was like a mother for me. On learning that I wanted to write a book on the anti-establishment personalities in the USA on the basis of elaborate interviews she told me to give her the manuscript so her publisher could publish the book. I told her that I wanted the book to be published in India by an Indian publisher. Upon that she told me, ‘But Suman, why do you have to be so mean about which country your book might be published in and by whom? Isn’t my country your country too?’ I felt embarrassed but I adamantly stuck to my idea of having my book published in India. Maya Angelou told me, ‘Well, if you were clever you would publish your book here in America. I wonder if you would find a publisher in your country.’ She was right. On returning to India I looked for a publisher and failed to find any. Samar Sen told me that his Germinal Publication might publish it but it did not have the necessary funds. When I offered him money he was quite annoyed. He said, ‘I should not publish any book taking the needed money from the author. My project The Other America never materialized. The thought of that book that never was and the memory of all the great American minds that helped me write the manuscript still make me sad. Could I ever face those wonderful people ever again? Do they still remember me, Suman Chatterjee? At that time I was Suman Chatterjee. I became Kabir Suman on the basis of a proper affidavit in 2000. Some of the interviews got published in Frontier and in Desh.


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