As I read Radhika Sanghani’s debut book, Virgin, I quite literally laughed out loud. All at once, I was reminded of the awkward years my girlfriends and I spent discovering ourselves and what it means to be a woman. I felt like another of Ellie’s friends, listening to the hilarious situations she finds herself in. Sanghani gets straight to the heart of the matter. While Ellie is about to graduate college and looking for an internship, she is also trying desperately to lose her virginity. And although it would have been easy for Sanghani to make this a love story, she doesn’t. As a woman, I appreciate that. This is a book about self-discovery and personal growth, and, well, boys just tend to get in the way of that.
21 years old
I stared in horror at the words on Dr. E. Bowers’ computer. The status of my hymen was plastered across her screen in capital letters.
The letters glowed luridly on the green computer screen, the kind used before Steve Jobs figured out Apple. They imprinted themselves into my mind in an eighties blur. A lump of anxiety lodged itself into my throat and my cheeks started burning. I felt sick.
My humiliating secret was all over my medical records and Dr. E. Bowers was going to see it. I didn’t even know what the E in her name stood for but she was about to find out that in the two and a half years I had spent at uni, not a single boy had wanted to deflower me. Not one. I was twenty-one years old and I still had my V-card.
–Excerpt from Radhika Sanghani’s Virgin.
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Radhika Sanghani: Virginity, vaginas, pubes, and some feminism.
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
RS: How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran and Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
RS: A hell of a lot of honesty (my girlfriends have inspired a lot of the most graphic scenes), as much comedy as I’m capable of, and an underlying seriousness about the issues young women face today—namely what you should do with your pubes.
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
RS: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I will never forget how amazing it was to read it as a teenager and realize that heroines could be plain, angry, and not always perfect.
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
RS: Yes—it is possible to sit there in a coffee shop howling at your own comic scenes whilst editing your novel. That’s the best bit.
Get a copy of Virgin from Indiebound.
Radhika Sanghani is a twenty-four-year-old journalist. She works full-time for the Daily Telegraph’s Women’s section, where she writes about politics, health, and women’s trends. She grew up in London but spent time working in Chile and Barcelona. She studied English Literature at University College London, followed it up with a master’s in journalism at City University London and now spends all of her time writing. Visit her online at www.radhikasanghani.com and find her tweeting at @radhikasanghani.