The Immortal King Rao ft Vauhini Vara

Vauhini Vara was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, as a child of Indian immigrants, and grew up there and in Oklahoma and the Seattle suburbs. Her debut novel, The Immortal King Rao (W.W. Norton), is a New York Times Editors’ Choice and has been longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize; reviewing it in the Times, Justin Taylor called it “a monumental achievement.”

Q: You started working on the Immortal King  Rao in the year 2009. How was your creative endeavor working on  this novel which certainly marks your debut as an author?

VV: It was long and arduous but, in the end, very fulfilling.

Q: On the work front you have worked as a Wall Street Journal technology reporter and as the business editor for The New Yorker. Was there any way in which you feel your job has contributed to this multigenerational epic journey as an author begin?

VV: Yes, the book’s concerns, having to do with capitalism, technology, and family, are deeply informed by my work as a business journalist.

Q: Much of the success of the multi stranded narrative depends on how well it has been characterised. The Immortal King Rao has been reviewed  as three great novels as one. The book consists of three different storylines, we would like to know about the process of amalgamating these three storylines into one novel and the sequencing or structuring of the same ?

VV: Properly structuring the book was one of the most difficult aspects of writing it. I kept trying different structures, over and over, until I finally arrived at one — after many years — that worked.

Q: A few major subjects or questions the novel immortal King Rao poses at the familial, societal and global scale  is concerning the rising self sovereignty among people and the materiality of interdependence. What are your personal opinions or ideologies about these subjects?

VV: I prefer to engage with these questions in a fictional format and try not to say too much outside of that, to better allow readers to come to their own conclusions.

Apart from being Satirical and heartbreaking, packed with historical detail and flawless dystopian world building, The Immortal King Rao is also an intimate character study, portraying the complicated bonds of families. As one continues to read the book proceeds to unravel the personality of the king from being a larger than life genius to a scared and puzzled child, how would you describe this process of intricate character building?

VV: I didn’t know who King, or his daughter Athena, for that matter, would be, until I started writing and kept going. It was a process of discovery for me.

Q:Lastly, what piece of advice would you like to give all the young writers out there? Anything you would like to share that has helped you maintain momentum or to grow and evolve not only as a writer but also as a person?

Read as much as you can!

Q:Tell us about the future literary projects that you are working on.1 response

VV: I’m working on a story collection called This is Salvaged.

Jeffery Archer ft Over my dead body

1.How did your journey as an Author begin?

JA: I was a young Member of Parliament in London, made a disastrous investment and lost all my money, so I resigned from the House and had to find another job. I’d never considered writing before, but suddenly I thought the idea of how I lost my money would make a good novel – Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less – and that’s exactly how it all began.

2. Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

JA: No – I’m very happy with the name Jeffrey Archer, and I’m happy for people to know I have written the books!

3. How long did it take to finish Over my dead body ?

JA: Writing a first draft of a novel takes around a thousand hours, and during that time I do fourteen drafts, and a year later I’ve finished.

4. Please tell us about some anecdotes that were a part of the writing process of Over my dead body ?

JA: I rely a great deal on the expertise of my two chief researchers, ex-chief superintendent John Sutherland and ex-detective sergeant Michelle Roycroft, who come up with anecdotes that took place in their careers, with perhaps a little embellishment.

5. How would you describe your Book’s Ideal reader ?

JA: I consider myself a storyteller rather than a writer, so aim to make the books unputdownable. But only the public can decide if one has achieved that.

6. Tell us about the future literary projects that you are working on.

JA: This month sees the publication of the paperback of Over My Dead Body, then in September my new William Warwick novel, Next in Line, will be in the shops, and I’m now working on the next book in the series, for 2023 – but I can’t reveal either the theme or the title just yet! Can I send every one of you in your amazing book club, my very best wishes and thank you for your support over the years. It will not come as a surprise that 60% of my readers are women. 

Kainaz Messman Harchandrai

1. The book certainly reveals many of your personal  experiences and also acts a guide for new entrepreneurs. We would like to know what was it that inspired you to write this book? Where did this all stem from?

KMH:I had been asked to write a recipe book many times but when I was approached to write about my journey and share what I had done and how we got to where we were, it gave me an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we had achieved, and the people who helped us get there.   Bringing our experiences and learnings together was a therapeutic process.  We have chronicled what we did and the things we got right, the mistakes we made and lessons learned, and it gave us an opportunity to thank the people who have helped build our business.  I hope the book also serves as an inspiration and is an honest depiction of what it takes to build a company.  

2. The book speaks about importance of teamwork and how essential it is for the success of any venture. What is your way building up a team and dealing with people and your employees?

KMH:I became a boss at the age of 24, I was unprepared for the role.  Over the years and on reflection, I recognised my own shortcomings and put a lot of effort into evolving into a better boss and inspiring my staff.  This did not come easily to me, I had to analyse where I was going wrong and I have worked hard to create a warm environment and build the cohesive teams that we have today.   I now understand better the backgrounds and challenges faced by our staff, and they understand me better too.  We communicate well, I am more empathetic and patient, when we face a problem we work together to find a solution.  

3. We are keen  to know, how as a person and an  entrepreneur do you deal with downfalls and what is your way of coming back stronger ?

KMH: I am sometimes asked what the most difficult phase of building my business was.  The truth is that every stage has been incredibly difficult, the problems change and perhaps get bigger and with greater consequences, but they never go away.  I have learned that the only way to deal with problems is head on.  We investigate, we try to understand the implications, we come up with possible solutions.  We do not wish our problems away, because we have tried and it does not work.  Grit, consistency, and the belief that this too will pass, has kept us looking ahead and moving forward.  It is the unwavering belief that any problem can be overcome is what keeps us motivated to keep working hard and focusing on the future.  

4. In the book you have also mentioned about “the ingredients to build a great business “
Is there any specific ” ingredient ” you swear by or has been very challenging for you personally.

KMH: For a business to be successful you need to get many things right.  Surrounding yourself with good, honest and dependable people is the foundation that a successful business is built on.  Focus on the product or service that you provide, no amount of packaging and branding can compensate for a product that does not bring your customers back.  Build at your own pace, do what you think is right, and be willing to work incredibly hard.  I wanted my book to be an honest account of what it really takes to build a business.  What may appear to be an overnight success usually has decades of study, sweat and tears behind it.  

5. Lastly what is that one advice you want to give to all those, specially  women who aspire to start  a new venture?

KMH: For anyone starting a business, try and find something you love, something you genuinely want to do.  Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint.  Figure out what motivates you, and link that to what you are delivering. Grow at your pace, don’t let others determine the trajectory of your company.  Work with good people and enjoy your journey.  

Kesar and the lullaby birds ft Debasmita Dasgupta

Debasmita Dasgupta is a Singapore-based internationally published picture-book illustrator and graphic novel artist with over a decade of experience in the field of art-for-change. She specialises in creating cause-based illustrations, be it about promoting girl child rights, ending violence against women or sharing inspiring stories of change makers. Her work has been showcased across many countries in the world.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

DD: No. My name has always been a conversation starter in my life. In Sanskrit it means “the smile of God”.

How long did it take to finish “Kesar and the Lullaby Birds” ?

DD: From visual research to final colour illustrations took me about 6-8 months.

Tell us about some anecdotes that were a part of the writing process of this book?

DD: Illustrating Kesar’s story has been a terrific experience. I love vibrant colours and patterns and textures. And this story gave me to opportunity to experiment and create with each of these elements. I have dedicated this book to India’s incredible indigenous artists who have always inspired my art.

How would you describe your Book’s Ideal reader ?

DD: Children of all ages, precisely 7-9 years

Tell us about the future literary projects that you are working on.

DD: I am working on one picture book, 2 graphic novels for children, and one graphic novel for young adults. All releasing in 2022-23.

The Hidden Hindu ft Akshat Gupta

Akshat Gupta, author of ‘The Hidden Hindu’. Also a Bollywood screenwriter, lyricist, and poet based in Mumbai. Akshat has more than 5 films in his bag, including 2 with T-Series and others with known production houses of Bollywood.

How did your journey as an author begin?

AG: I began writing for my son. He loved watching all the fictional stories and was a huge fan of Marvel, DC, Harry potter and others. In 2014, I came to Mumbai leaving behind my restaurant business and started a new journey as a writer. Initially it was a little difficult but slowly and steadily things lead me to the right path in life.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?

AG: I have never considered writing under a pseudonym. There are no reasons behind it.

The cover of the book is quite interesting and eye catching, would you like to tell us more about it?

AG: Yes, the cover was created by a guy named Sangram and Mr. Neeraj, all the credits to them. We have been getting amazing responses about the cover and we are happy how it came out as well.

Tell us a bit about the Symbols that is in the end of the book ?

AG: The symbol as a whole covers the entire journey of ‘The Hidden Hindu’. Each and every element carved on the symbol has a specific relevance and importance to the story. That’s all I can add to this question as I don’t want to become the spoiler of my own story.

What was the thought process when you introduced Subhash Chandra Bose character’s ?

AG: There have been talks and theories about the end of the great Subash Chandra Bose, but it was never confirmed. Many characters in our story including Subash Chandra Bose were essential in the creation of the story. As all the things mentioned about the Hindu scriptures and history are facts and not fiction and our story revolves around the same.

Tell us about the future literary projects that you are working on.

AG: We are working on a lot of things, and I hope that the next literary piece comes out soon for the people to read.

Book Review

Imaan went to Central Jail as an infant in his mother, Zahura Bibi’s arms. She was charged with her husband’s murder and dies in jail a few year later. Imaan has no relatives to take care of him and hence he stays in jail for twenty years. He is always fascinated by the outside world based on all the stories he heard from the fellow inmates.

Sometime later, his wish is fulfilled and he is released from the confines of the jail. Not knowing where to go and what to do, he ends up at Jadavpur Railway Station, becomes a ragpicker and is now craving to go back to the comfortable life in jail.

This is my first read by Manoranjan Byapari and I am bowled over by the raw account of life in the jail and the bosti near the Jadavpur Railway Station. The nuances of the contrast in life at both the places have been captured very well through various independent incidents.

The story does not move in a linear fashion, one connected event after another yet the reader can find a distinct connection amongst all the individual stories. There are a huge number of characters each with a different set of problems yet one common thing that binds them together – their daily grind to survival, described in a heart-wrenching manner.

The book has disturbing accounts of rape, murders, prostitution and the condition of the prostitutes. The dead body being exchanged for money, young girls being dragged in flesh trade, small gangs operating to rob people in trains, buses and crowded places were described in a brutally honest manner.

The book ends with Imaan sorting out the dilemma of going to jail or carrying on his life in the bosti. The part depicted how Imaan ultimately gets sucked into the way of life despite being oblivious to the outside world and happy in the safety of his shell in the jail.

I am glad that it was translated from Bengali to English so that it can reach the non-Bengali reading book lovers as well. The book is rich with the flavour of Bengal in terms of the language, life style of the people living in slums and their struggles. A hard-hitting book that I highly recommend !!

Book in focus: NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER

NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER by BETTY MAHMOODY

Betty and Moody come to Iran from the USA with Mahtob, their 4-year-old daughter to meet Moody’s family on a two-week vacation in August 1984. But just when they are supposed to board the flight back to the USA, Moody announces that they are staying in Iran for the rest of their lives. Betty and Mahtob are devastated to hear this and imagine their lives in diametrically opposite cultures to the one they belong. No amount of resistance from them melts Moody. Rather his rage is like never seen before.
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Betty recalls her married life of 8 years with him and the times when she saw signs that this was coming but she wanted to make this marriage work and not end up in another unsettling divorce.
Not Without My Daughter is an autobiographical account of Betty’s struggle and success to get back to the USA along with her daughter in February 1986. The 518 pages of this book throw light on the political, cultural, and educational scenario of Iran during those times and Betty and Mahtob’s constant struggle to escape the clutches of patriarchy.
The book is sure to stir myriads of emotions all through, ranging from anger and hatred for Moody and his countless family members, disgust and helplessness at the filthy conditions in which they live during their stay in Iran, determination to not leave Iran without her daughter, acceptance and hope when people help them in an unknown land and a way out of Iran surfaces through and finally ecstasy at the reunion with their family.
The book is an account of Betty’s grit and success to finally come back and brings out the message “Where there is Will, there is a Way”. She penned down the book to give hope to thousands of females like her who were stuck in Iran during those times.
After a long time, I came across a book that made me choose to read oversleeping. The book is descriptive considering it encompasses 1.5 years of Betty’s life but it could not have been written otherwise or else the reader would not really empathize with the hardships and obstacles that the mother-daughter duo faced.

Book in focus: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Interesting #titles and a #masala story

When women are free to talk about themselves; needs wants & desires, all manner of things start to emerge. Firstly, some eye-watering erotic stories, with some hilarious choice words to describe genitalia. The stories ignite other women to share their experiences & fantasies.

A book of sexy stories in English is shared with the windows and Nikki realizes that there is more to these women than she thought. Nikki is then put in a difficult position where she wants to liberate the women to express themselves but also learns she must keep them safe from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.”