What was the hardest part of writing your fiction debut novel, The Temple-goers?
Joseph Conrad, in a preface to (his novel) The Secret Agent, takes note of criticism based on the ground of ‘sordid surroundings and the moral squalor’ of his story. I think it’s fair to say that an element of this exists in The Temple-goers too. And while it does not produce any feeling of apology in me, it was difficult to work out characters who, though not necessarily likeable, were believable and interesting.
Not even remotely.
What was the most interesting aspect of Delhi society that you uncovered whilst researching the novel?
Probably - and this is a result of a new urbanity - people looking at each other in different ways. Never before has Delhi felt so full of fresh faces. The city has known many convulsions, population-altering convulsions, like almost no other Indian city. Consider 1857 and then 1947, both occurring in less than 150 years. But I think at this moment in Delhi’s history, an equally important, population-altering convulsion is happening. And unlike those earlier ones, it is not coming on the back of destruction, but marks a moment in a city’s life, reminiscent of Haussmann and Paris, when its different strands are pulled together and its spirit seems to lift.
Full interview here DNA