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 Indian Author




Finally the 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.”

The 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.

What 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.)

But my 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.)

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