Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

August 14, 2012

UWS Literary Lunch with Kiran Nagarkar

What an absolute delight to meet Kiran Nagarkar at the at UWS Literary Lunch on Tuesday 7th August, organised by Mridula Chakraborty.

Kiran Nagarkar must be one of the most under-rated Indian novelists despite his fine narratives, one of whichCuckold’ won the Sahitya Akademi Award. Kiran thinks deeply about any number of topics. He is a novelist with questions, rather than answers.

His writing is probably not as rewarded as it might be because Kiran is not an author who feels moved to fit the mould expected by many publishers. Another of the challenges that Kiran faces as an author from Mumbai is the current call for Indian authors to write in their local language, such as Marathi rather than in English. “Marathi papers and magazines and critics completely reject me because I switched to English; and in a very offensive kind of way.”

Nevertheless, I’m glad that Kiran writes in English as I admire his novels immensely. His books make the reader think and interact with narrative and author, they also have humour and a sense of the absurd.

My co-editor Meenakshi Bharat and I were fortunate enough to persuade Kiran Nagarkar to let us publish an extract from his novel ‘God’s Little Soldier’ in our collection of stories from Australia and the subcontinent ‘Fear Factor Terror Incognito’. The extract, titled ‘In Search of Essar’, revolves around a plot to carry out the fatwah on Rushdie. Unfortunately Zia, the protagonist, though he has unwavering belief in his calling is not so confident in the practical aspects. His frustration and bewilderment at his ineptitude allows for some very comical moments.

Kiran is a marvellous speaker. He was an international guest at this year’s Byron Bay Writers Festival. It was such a pleasure to hear him speak about his narratives, his perspective on the world and India, in particular, and about the ‘god of life’. He held the audience in his hands the whole time.

The relatively small number invited and the setting made this a rather special literary lunch with a chance to chat to Kiran in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Roanna Gonsalves, Devaki Monani, Ivor Indyk, Nicholas Jose,  Aashish Kaul, Shanti Napier, Ian Bedford and Susanne Gervay  were among those at the UWS literary lunch organised by Mridula Chakraborty.

Kiran’s books are difficult to get in Australia but I recommend that you try. His latest book is ‘Extras’ a sequel to ‘Ravan and Eddie’, and is set in Bollywood.

Kiran Nagarkar’s Books: Extras, Ravan and Eddie, Cuckold, God’s Little Soldier.

Story ‘In Search of Essar’ in ‘Fear Factor Terror Incognito’ published PanMacmillan Picador India 2009 & Picador Australia 2010.

For interviews with Kiran Nagarkar in print, podcast and video:

 Political intolerance limits authors: Kiran Nagarkar (youtube)

Kiran Nagarkar, best known for his seminal English novel, ‘Ravan and Eddie’, is out with a sequel called ‘The Extras’, once again starring Ravan Pawar and Eddie Coutinho. http://ibnlive.com/livetv

Books and Arts Daily ABC RN Podcast

Conversation with Kiran Nagarkar

Rediff Interview with Kiran Nagarkar

Good Reads Kiran Nagarkar

Many thanks Mridula and UWS for a memorable meeting with Kiran Nagarkar. Thanks also to Devaki Monani for taking the photos (which means she isn’t in the group photo). It was very kind of you, Devaki.

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