Friday, March 12, 2010

Bestselling Indian fiction queen tells it like it is

Shobhaa Dé takes on the corrupt political system in her next novel titled Sethji...

For everyone who thinks there is a world on the other side of the cupboard door, author Shobhaa Dé wants you to step out of the closet and embrace your inner Narnia. Or Oz. Or your inner Red Queen.
"With 16 published books, all of them bestsellers, I want to inspire closet writers and tell them to go forth and write," she tells Emirates Business in an interview ahead of her visit to Dubai this week, clearly ready to take on any aspirants for the bestseller list.
The model-turned-journalist-turned-novelist, 62, is one of India's best-known literary exports, leveraging her journalistic skills to document – in bonkbusting fiction and handy how-to primers alike – the story of a country as it comes of age and comes to grips with its newfound international celebrity.
Her works have been translated into 15 languages, her no-holds-barred approach winning favour with readers around the world.
And she will tell it like it is at the ongoing Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, where she will discuss her latest book, Superstar India, written as she turned 60 – a few months after the country itself marked its 60th anniversary of independence from colonial rule. She is also on a panel with Mughal historian William Dalrymple and Slumdog Millionaire author Vikas Swarup, discussing the future of India, which, by some accounts could become the world's third-largest economy (by purchasing power) by 2012.
Partly autobiographical in nature, Superstar India is nevertheless a fascinating account of one woman's journey alongside that of her country. Alongside some soul-searching of her own, she demolishes every cliché about the country while proving it to be true, neatly dissecting Indian society, its politics and its culture.
Dé is currently hard at work on her newest book, Sethji, which she hopes will be out next year. "2011, Inshallah," she replies with no hint of irony, when asked for a release date.
Reportedly a fictionalised exposé about one corrupt Indian political family (Seth translates from the Hindi to mean master, ji is an honorific denoting respect), Dé shies away from offering too much detail. "It's a bit too premature to talk about Sethji," she starts off. "But Sethji has certainly moved inside my head – which is the best and most important sign. I can 'see' Sethji. The book will write itself now."
She describes the writing process as "very visceral… organic".
"I do maintain notes… but rarely refer to them. Yes, I do lose lots of great lines and even plot developments, but I console myself that my imagination will come up with something even better at a later stage," she explains. "And so far that's how it has gone. A linear narrative rarely plays by the rules the writer sets out with. At some point the characters write their own stories. But it helps to have a basic structure to begin with."

Full report here Emirates Business

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