East India Tales
This must be a first of sorts—Jhumpa Lahiri’s forthcoming novel The Lowlands has been long-listed for the Booker Prize even before it has been published. It covers familiar territory—exile and return, America and India. The story has two brothers—Udayan, who gets drawn to the Naxalite movement, and Subhash, who leaves home for an academic life in a quiet, coastal corner of US. The crux comes when Subhash learns what has happened to his brother back home and tries to pick up the pieces of a shattered family. The book is out in India in the last week of September.
Embracing A Garret
What, you quit a well-paying, respectable day job to become a full-time writer, was the exclamation that greeted Sunjeev Sahota—one of Granta’s ‘20 under 40’ authors (Best of the Young British Novelists)—who is on a India visit. This is the list Granta comes up once every 10 years—Rushdie, McEwan and Ishiguro have all figured in it. Sunjeev, lanky and soft-spoken, and the only one in the list of Indian origin, was at pains to explain that he was giving writing a serious go and Granta selecting him is a big boost. His first book, Our are the Streets, did fairly well and he is on to his second novel, The Year of the Runaways. Good luck, Sunjeev.
There’s a burst of books on Bihar. Soon after Bihar Breakthrough by Rajesh Chakrabarti came Amitava Kumar’s incisive A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna. Now there is a book by Patna’s redoubtable economist-bureaucrat, N.K. Singh: The New Bihar: Rekindling Governance and Development. With author-diplomat Pavan Varma as Nitish Kumar’s advisor, will there be one by him too?