Arzee the Dwarf was recently shortlisted for the Commonwealth First Book Award. The prize finally went to the Australian writer Glenda Guest for her novel Siddon Rock.
Arzee will be out in a paperback edition with a new cover later this year. Some reviews of the novel are here: India Today, Outlook, Tehelka, and Interjunction. An excerpt from Chapter 2 of the book is here.
And my second book, an anthology of Indian fiction called India: A Traveler's Literary Companion, is now ready, and will be out in America in June from Whereabouts Press. In a way, the book is an extension of the work of literary appreciation you see here on The Middle Stage, and might be thought of as a short introduction to the diverse pleasures of Indian literature reflective of my own reading and tastes (which is all that any anthologist can bring to his or her book).
Each story in the book is set in a different part of the country, and is absorbed not just with character and narrative but also with the depiction of place and landscape. The stories employ a number of narrative modes: not just realist (itself a very broad school) but also fabulist, folkloric, and historical. The streets of the city, the sea, the village pond, the railways, the ancient monument, even the zoo – these are some of the Indian sites and character-worlds of the stories, each given a strong local incarnation.
The anthology is divided almost evenly between Indian fiction in English and fiction from the other literatures of India, including translations from seven languages alongside works by Indian writers in English. Although by no means exhaustive (it is a short book, and limited to the same size as the other volumes in the series), it features stories from a timespan of over a hundred years in Indian literature, from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. The book has a foreword by Anita Desai, and among the writers in it are Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay, Kunal Basu, Fakir Mohan Senapati, Qurratulain Hyder, Phanishwarnath Renu, Githa Hariharan, Nazir Mansuri and Anjum Hasan.