For India's Independence Day & Month, the Freedom Trilogy, Beauty Queens, What We All Need

When a young Indian named Mohandas Gandhi went to South Africa as a fortune-hunting lawyer, he, thanks to an inbuilt sense of fairness and justice, refused to back down when slapped on the face with an unfair law: “No blacks and Indians allowed in First Class railway compartments.” The incident changed his life. A rising yuppie lawyer, he was transformed into a freedom fighter heedless of his personal wealth, and interested purely in battling injustice and gaining freedom for oppressed people.

I, who am no saint in most aspects of my life, did, over a longer period, come to a certain discovery that changed my literary career and perhaps my life. 

I came to America to study and for the freedom to be who I really was.  American universities were spacious, generous, and open-minded. Until I arrived in America, I did not know how to distinguish between good literature and trash; I had read very few of the great works. In America, at two different universities, one of which has produced many Nobel Prizewinners, I had my mind opened to the vast richness of the world's literature, and of America's daring, imaginative, and truth-speaking writers. They lit the fires of freedom in my soul.

The first pages of my novel were written in a middle-class suburb of New York--in Long Island. They received a rousing welcome at a Columbia University General Studies class. I embarked on my novel, fully believing that, at the end of the road, I was in for a rich literary career.

But in 1991-1994, in the process of trying to sell my just completed novel to American and British publishers—a novel I had spent nine years writing and a whole lifetime preparing to write—I ran into the phenomenon of Literary Apartheid--discovering that there were certain areas of literature in which brown people were not allowed. The rule said: If thou art brown, thou may not write as if you possessed a penis. Decorative, drawing room, literary writing was welcome; but brown male writers who unabashedly expressed the sexual aspects of their natures, even in the process of writing complex and multifaceted novels, were not.

To me, a writer who had come to the U.S. chiefly for the freedom to write as I pleased, to be myself and express myself and tell my story without inhibitions or fear, this prohibition was an insufferable example of hypocrisy. Someone had to tell the apartheid regime in South Africa that keeping people off compartments because their skin was the wrong color was not right. Someone had to tell the racist regimes of America that confining black people to the back of the bus was not right.

And I, told in 1997 by a major agent and a major editor that publishing the true story of my literary experiences would result in my being “banned.” I decided to prove them wrong, to defy their threat and publish what I wished to publish in any case; indeed, their words simply strengthened my determination to publish these books.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1997 in a press release, I announced a Freedom Trilogy: three books that would violate all the rules directed at brown writers writing in English, and a few taboos that applied to other writers as well. In an India Today interview in December 1997, I reiterated this decision; but this time, I specifically named the three books. The Freedom Edition of The Revised Kama Sutra would be the first, Impressing the Whites would be the second, and The Killing of an Author the third.

But it would take eleven more years to publish the third book, because in 1997, I was fighting difficult challenges on two different fronts: the domestic front, and the publishing front.

In 1998, I published the Freedom Edition of The Revised Kama Sutra. In 2000, I published Impressing the Whites the second book of the Freedom Trilogy—but only in India, though it slowly started to gain readers in the United States, and was also published in Singapore thereafter. And in October 2007, the third book of the Freedom Trilogy, The Killing of an Author, was published in America and then in India. (However, the American publication was just a symbolic publication; I was not physically in America, and could not be there to distribute the books or promote them.)

Of The Revised Kama Sutra, Society magazine wrote: “A refreshing revolt . . . Crasta has spoken out against censorship, against oppression.” Of Impressing the Whites, The Asian Age wrote that it “boldly goes where no man has gone before.” Of The Killing of an Author, Kuldip Nayar said in his speech, “a work of integrity. If Richard succeeds, we shall all succeed.” I believe that these three books, taken together, represent some of the most daring books ever published by an Indian writer.

Today, on India’s Independence Day, I ask you to look at Indian writers with a different set of glasses: not how much money they make, how much fame they have, how many awards they have won, how much power they wield in this literary universe (and yes, we Indians are obsessed by power, money, and fame, and care too little about "freedom"). I ask you to look at how much sheer courage it took them to publish their books, what internal demons and external obstacles they had to fight.

And perhaps you could start by looking at these three books on my website, or at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, Nook, and elsewhere: most e-readers offer you a free sample, or you could take a chance and just buy one of the three books. Just a thought.

Here are a few links:

Amazon Kindle:

Impressing the Whites:  
Impressing the Whites (Smashwords):


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