My first novel published in October 2009, was almost auctioned by my publisher, Corinne Souza, of Picnic Publishing Limited*, UK. She believed, like the publisher of my earlier work, that the book needed an even bigger publisher. But I thought that there could be no publisher bigger for my book than her as she had played such a vital role in the final shape that the novel was to take. I can say without hesitation, that a writer who would like to learn the art of fiction should always approach a publisher like her in the initial stages.
It is a Raj novel covering the era 1917-1940. The characters are Indians and Brits, including a fictional British Viceroy of India. Sir Saraswati is educated at Cambridge and employed with the Maharaja of Kashinagar. He must leave Kashinagar and settle down in Mirzapur after a debauchee Maharaja gets enthroned. The Viceroy and Sir Saraswati have a battle of wits and diplomacy. His wife and three children, and their problems, form the thrust of the novel. The story chiefly revolves round the elder daughter, Maneka, who refuses to be traditional and goes through a variety of experience that makes her an extraordinary person, a woman of the future. Her affair with the British Collector, Larry Stephens, and her marriage with Mohan contain unusually weird experiences. Her brother’s love affair and its problems provide some of the tension. But Maneka is largely visualized as a daughter of Sir Saraswati whose life provides the basis of the novel. His ambivalence related to the Indian National Movement and his loyalty to the British, and his final decision to contribute directly to the movement, forms the basic plot. The novel has moments of the murder mystery. Comic scenes are aplenty though there are the grave and the suspenseful.
The novel shows the interactions between Indians and the Brits and their ensuing racial problems. The British enjoy their Indian experience and their presence makes upper class Indian life more vibrant. The novel juxtaposes sublime and ridiculous moments of royal natives as well as the British who came to India.
*This novel is to be published by Penguin Books India in 2012.