Songsmith, Giraffe-whisperer, Ninja, Archeologist from Pluto and elsewhere, Model, Former Ambassador to Chad, Ice skating champion, part time Falconer and Chef. None of the above is true. My books speak for me. All else is commentary or speculation.
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The Strange World of an Indian Bestselling Author
From The Killing of an Author, published in paper and on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Nook, etc. Selected passages from one of the book's most important chapters. The trouble with any excerpt in a blog is that, I have to restrict the language here, and also that no excerpt can really convey the power of the book as the book itself (particularly later chapters such as "The Taboos" and "The System and the Killing of Subversive Authors").
An Author Is Born
The Strange World of A Bestselling
book ["The Revised Kama Sutra: A Novel"] was finished, and it included a strong, in-your-face Prologue, a political
manifesto on behalf of invisible Third World writers, a manifesto demanding
equal freedom and incorporating The Invisible Man Press:
“It is true
that I, the author, have registered a publishing company in the United States
called the Invisible Man Press because I felt that it was time for us Indians
(including those of Indian origin — one-sixth of humankind) in this
postcolonial age to feel free to say absolutely whatever we wanted to say,
without censorship of any kind, real or imagined.”
Prologue went on to suggest that censorship of Third World voices occurred
discreetly in a democracy like the U.S., and that Western publishing was a very
effective tool of this censorship and control. Briefly, the Prologue’s message was: We
are equal citizens of Republic Earth, so please, no double standards, no
paternalistic rules or prohibitions.
chutzpah, I think now, looking back on what I did, for a brown writer living a
marginal literary existence in the West to start his first novel
with an attack on Western publishing, literary colonialism, and apartheid, and
his first chapter with a blast at British colonialism! Rather than waiting, as Arundhati Roy later did,
to first make her millions and establish her power base in the West, and then
to choose causes that would make her the darling of liberals. (How this passage
must have reddened the face of Peter Mayer, Penguin’s worldwide head, who
received a copy of the novel from David Davidar shortly thereafter, and did nothing
about it.) But I was young, green, hopeful, and proud, and didn’t know that
there were no prizes set aside and waiting, in the West-dominated literary
world, for Indian writers with balls, for unsuitable brown boys. (If there was
to be a prize, I would have to institute it myself ... and I actually started
planning for it — “The Invisible Man
Press Award for a Courageous Indian Writer” — but could not follow through
because of too many commitments and too few resources.)
Penguin India editor David Davidar’s enthusiasm, the feeling that fame — or
some sort of explosion (David’s prediction of the novel “taking India by
storm”) — was around the corner made me decide, with finality, to ask that my
on-again, off-again resignation from the Indian Administrative Service, until
now my ticket to security and comfort and status for life in India, be made
permanent and irrevocable.
.. (Please read the rest in The Killing of an Author, available on most e-book platforms and in paperback.)
Much of politics and history, especially in the U.S., is about Us and Them. Us, the Good Guys, versus much of the Rest of the World: the Bad Guys. If you're with us, with moral as well as material and diplomatic support, you're also good guys (though not as good as us). If you're against us, or simply not with us, you're bad guys. And our mission is to bomb, starve, and sanction you into changing your mind.
Historian Mark David Ledbetter does not accept such a simplistic view of wold affairs. His study of history, contained in three works of towering research, America's Forgotten History: Parts 1-3, tells him that every nation, at some point in its history, has been guilty of genocide or war crimes. It just happens that different nations are at different points of development and engagement with the rest of the world, and therefore, we don't all behave and think the same.
But that's just one element of Ledbetter's new book, Dancing on the Edge of the W…
When I was in my late teens, I used to read Punch magazine, and one of my favorite writers was Alan Coren, who published a humor collection titled Golfing for Cats. It turned out that the book had nothing to do with either golfing or cats; but golfing and cats were the two hottest subjects on the bestseller list at that time, so he married the two and made up the title. (Alan Coren's book ended up doing quite well.)
My story is totally different. Neither cats, goats, nor Mahatma Gandhi are particularly hot at this moment (the Mahatma, if resurrected, would be horrified by Donald Trump and prefer to return to his grave), so the Alan Coren anecdote only partly explains the title of my new book: The Mahatma, the Goats, and Young Cats, all of which do occur in my collection of humor and satire, but are not its main subjects: this being a diverse humor collection ranging from Jesus to Ronald Reagan, from Indian politics to American nukes and deficits, from Adam and Eve to modern puber…