Author Features

MEET: Vibhuti Jain author of “Our Best Intentions”

Vibhuti lives with her husband and daughter in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Last Updated on May 25, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle

Vibhuti Jain - Our Best Intentions
Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain

What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, a delicious (pun intended!) family saga about a Caribbean American family coming to terms with family secrets and legacy.

Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?

I recently read A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, about an Indian immigrant navigating life in a fictional town in the DR Congo. I was curious to read literature about Congo, a country with a turbulent political history, given my work in international development in Africa, and also it was the first novel I’ve read by Naipaul, one of the most celebrated authors of the Indian diaspora.

Do you re-read books   And if yes, what was your last re-read?

Yes, I do occasionally, and it’s often by accident, in the sense that I’ll go back to a book I adored like White Teeth by Zadie Smith in search of a particular passage and find myself so re-enraptured, I end up re-reading the whole thing.

What are your go-to genres?

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a genre, but I am drawn to literary fiction featuring strong female protagonists. I also love a good family drama and stories that allow me to learn about other cultures and histories, like for example, Olga Dies Dreaming, by Xochitl Gonzalez, about Boricua culture and history, and The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, about a Chippawa community in the 1950s.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I was a book fanatic as a child so this is a tough one! I think it’s a toss up between Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and Superfudge by Judy Blume.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

Either / Or by Elif Batuman and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I’ve been dying to read the latter for several years now. I’d lent my copy to my mom during the pandemic and only recently picked it up from her.

Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?

This is a controversial question in my house! I try to use bookmarks to better preserve my books. In fact, my husband bought me these beautiful magnetic bookmarks, but more often than not, I still dogear.

What is your ideal reading setting?

Under the covers in bed with a cup of herbal tea.

Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?

This one’s easy – RJ Julia in Madison, Connecticut. I grew up in the neighboring town of Guilford, and I remember driving to downtown Madison on a summer afternoon and poring through the beautifully arranged shelves of novels and index cards with handwritten staff recommendations. I’m doing a book event there for the launch of Our Best Intentions, and honestly, I’m going to be a little star struck!

Vibhuti Jain's favorite bookstore

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?


What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

One of the most memorable was when I vacationed in Chile, and visited three of poet Pablo Neruda’s homes and became even more enthralled with his poetry

Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?

I’m pretty boring – at my desk in my study – often after a long meandering walk in my neighborhood where I work out writing and revisions in my head first.  

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Energize! There’s nothing like writing the first draft of a chapter or an essay and feeling a profound sense of accomplishment at putting ideas down on a page.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Just the one I’m currently working on – unless you count the various half-finished novels and movie scripts I wrote when I was in middle school.

Do you read your book reviews?  How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Absolutely. I’m a first time novelist, and this is a dream come true. I’d like to know how people respond to the material and am telling myself to take opinions – good and bad – in stride.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t stop writing. I took a long hiatus between sophomore year of college until I was in my mid-30s because I assumed I didn’t have a “future” as a writer.

When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?

Spending time with my husband and daughter – going on long walks or picnics as a family or reading and re-reading Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes to my daughter.

What are your three favorite things right now?

Apple earpods, Nike daybreak sneakers, and strong coffee. 

Your favorite travel destination and why?

Italy – the weather, inviting culture, gorgeous ancient architecture juxtaposed with modern buildings, and of course, the food.

What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?

Some sort of salmon heavy sushi platter; and depending on the time of day, either an Americano or a Negroni.

Vibhuti Jain's favorite food

What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?

Barack Obama

Zadie Smith

Christiane Amanpour

Mindy Kaling

Martin Scorcese

Ricky Gervais – even though he’d probably say something to offend us all.

If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?

Oh gosh – this is a hard one. I’m worried that it wouldn’t be the most thrilling movie. Is linear a genre?  

What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?

Minari, Lee Isaac Chung’s movie about a young Korean family trying to make it in Arkansas.

You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?

Probably a 90s ballad like “Saving the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams or “Always be my baby,” by Mariah Carey.

If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. She set the bar high for writing stories featuring Indian-American main characters and was my inspiration for writing a novel.

Our Best Intentions Vibhuti Jain

Buy Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain from: AMAZON / BOOKSHOP

The 1A Book Club: Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain

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