The ascent to the third-floor apartment of V.V. (Sugi) Ganeshananthan begins on a wood staircase in the foyer of a white brick Victorian edifice near Kerrytown. An apartment house for many years, the building was originally the Misses Clark's Seminary for Young Ladies, established in 1839 by Mary Clark and her sisters, Chloe and Roby. More recently, a high school friend of Ganeshananthan's lived with his girlfriend (now wife) in the apartment. They recommended it to the Sri Lankan-American journalist and fiction writer and also passed on several pieces of furniture.
Ganeshananthan writes in the early morning, after walking over to Zingerman's for coffee. Her office is a bright yellow room with white crown moldings, a hardwood floor, and a single window. "I'm able to look out at the trees and not feel isolated. I don't see the street, but it's not totally quiet," she says. Currently the U-M's Zell Visiting Professor of Creative Writing, she also writes book reviews, essays, and media criticism and is working on her second novel. Her first, Love Marriage, the story of two Sri Lankan Tamil families joined by marriage and tradition over four generations, was named one of Washington Post Book World's Best of 2008, and long-listed for the Orange Prize.