Books

Jasoda

Paar - 'mirage' country, where it is often impossible to draw the line between reality and illusion - has been suffering from a decade-long drought. Jasoda is one of the last to leave this 'arse-end of the world' with her children and mother-in-law. Since her husband claims he has important work to do for the local prince, Jasoda must make the journey to the city by the sea on her own. Meanwhile, after years of anonymity, Paar seems poised to take off. Will Jasoda return home with her children? Or stay in the city that's become home for her children?
It's taken for granted that epic journeys and epics were possible only during the time of the Mahabharata, the Odyssey, or the Iliad. Even more to the point, the heroes of the epics had to, perforce, be men. The eponymous Jasoda of the novel is about to prove how wrong the assumptions are. Kiran Nagarkar's trenchant narrative traces the journey of a woman of steely resolve and gumption, making her way through an India that is patriarchal, feudal, seldom in the news, and weighed down by dehumanizing poverty.

Seven Sixes Are Forty Three

Kushank Purandare is a young writer living off the goodwill of a host of friends, relatives, and lovers while he waits to gain recognition for his work. He is witness to their struggle as modern Indians to hold on to a semblance of truth and sanity in the face of alienation, squalor, violence, and loss of hope.
Nagarkar’s explosive style and irreverent approach caused an equally explosive reaction when Seven Sixes was first published in 1974. Critics have struggled to reconcile its apparent nihilism with its underlying sense of optimism.

Rest In Peace

Yes, R&E or E&R, as they are known in Bollywood, have made it to the top as music directors. But they have not lost sight of the big dream, nor have they forgotten their past struggles.
Ravan and Eddie are determined to become superstars even if they have to produce the damn film themselves. From the glitz and glamour of Bollywood to the badlands of Chambal. From the high-rises of tony Pali Hill to Indian literature’s most famous chawl address, CWD Chawl No. 17. From air-kissing high-society to gun-wielding mafia bosses, Ravan and Eddie muddle along from one catastrophe to another, without ever losing their trademark sangfroid. As bawdy and entertaining as Ravan and Eddie, as exuberant and over-the-top as The Extras, yet possessing a hard, cold edge, Rest in Peace is a fitting finale to the trilogy featuring Indian fiction’s most epic characters.

Bedtime Story

“Kiran Nagarkar is one of India’s most significant writers. Of a piece with his searing, dark, wickedly funny works are these experiments with form: the screenplay Black Tulip and the play Bedtime Story, both of which, in keeping with the author’s virtuosity, push the boundaries of their forms.”
Bedtime Story has been targeted by religious fundamentalist groups ever since it was first written after the Emergency in 1975 and this edition includes a trenchant essay on censorship and freedom of expression. The two works in this collection are a testimony to the multifaceted genius of Kiran Nagarkar.

Black Tulip

Meet Black Tulip, aka Rani, a seasoned con artist and yoga expert with a taste for expensive jewellery. Hot on her trail is ACP Regina Fielding, a daredevil cop whose style and panache Rani worships. Rani executes one eye-popping heist after another and the cat-and-mouse game between the two heats up. But even as things come to a head, Mumbai is held to ransom by terrorists, and the two ballsy antagonists, along with Rani’s new boyfriend, a computer whizkid and hacker, must come together. The fate of the city rests with them.
Black Tulip is a pacey, entertaining caper with a host of seedy characters – corrupt ministers, mob bosses, petty criminals, religious fanatics – in a world where nothing is as it seems.In Bedtime Story, the author uses the epic Mahabharata as a peg on which to hang a shocking tale of injustice and oppression. As a grandmother narrates a bedtime story, giving delectable twists to the age-old stories of Karna, Ekalavya and Draupadi, we see the gender and class violence that underlies the old tales of valour. Traversing the landscape of wars across the centuries – the ancient war of Kurukshetra to the Second World War, from the Bangladesh war in 1971 and to modern-day wars in boardrooms, Nagarkar reveals how little has changed in the centuries since the Mahabharata.

Cuckold

The time is early 16th century. The Rajput kingdom of Mewar is at the height of its power. It is locked in war with the Sultanates of Delhi, Gujarat and Malwa. But there is another deadly battle being waged within Mewar itself. Who will inherit the throne after the death of the Maharana?The course of history, not just of Mewar but of the whole of India, is about to be changed forever. At the centre of Cuckold is the narrator, heir apparent of Mewar, who questions the codes, conventions and underlying assumptions of the feudal world of which he is a part, a world in which political and personal conduct are dictated by values of courage, valour and courtesy; and death is preferable to dishonour.
A quintessentially Indian story, Cuckold has an immediacy and appeal that are truely universal.

God's Little Soldier

No matter what grab he dons, or the faith to which he subscribes, Zia believes that he is the chosen one, destined to save the world.
Gifted mathematician, stock market whiz-kid, master guerrilla strategies, Defender of the faith, Zia Khan is a man willing to die for his beliefs, and to destroy anyone who comes in his way. Zia Khan is a god’s little soldier: a terrorist.Zia’s fate is linked with that of his brother, Amanat, who chooses the middle path.
Their lives diverge and their beliefs clash, but both are confronted in their own ways with the dilemmas of faith and betrayal, god and morality.Crafted with a deft, daring and certain hand, God’s Little Soldier is a masterpiece of storytelling. As a literary work, the novel effortlessly combines lyricism and learning, imagination and authenticity; as a modern-day allegory it highlights the dangers of religious extremism of all varieties, and is a profound and unflinching enquiry into the most pressing issues of our times.

Ravan & Eddie

A hilarious story about Ravan, a Maratha Hindu & Eddie, a Roman Catholic growing up to adolescence on different floors of the Central Works Department chawl no 17 in Bombay.
Having never before been inside a Chawl, this book brings the murk and the reality of the chawl life right into your drawing rooms.
The story starts off when Ravan is not yet born & Eddie is barely a year old. It then follows them through the twists & turns of their growing up, the pleasure, the pain, the horror, the angst, the guilt, the questions … they are all there in the book.

The Extras

Ravan and Eddie are back!
And they’re bigger, better and guaranteed to have you laughing out loud. Having grown up in the city of movie stars who drip glamour, the two mortal enemies, Ravan and Eddie dream of strutting down the road to super-stardom. But can Ravan, a lowly taxi driver, and Eddie, a bouncer-cum-bartender at an illegal bar, rise from their dusty CWD chawl to the glittering heights of international fame?
To complicate matters further, their love lives hang by a thread. Eddie, secure in having got Belle, the Anglo-Indian girl of his dreams, must now figure out how to overcome prejudice from both their families and his own apathy, in order to keep her. And Eddie’s sister Pieta, the object of Ravan’s adoration, is completely oblivious to his existence – until he saves her life.
Complete with a cast of soul-searching drunks, a nemesis called Three Point One, and nymph-like damsels in distress, The Extras is much more than a book about Bollywood or Bombay. It is the engrossing tale of a near-epic struggle against obscurity and towards self-realization; and is outrageously exuberant in the telling, and touching in its depiction of the large and small tragedies that shape our lives.

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Testimonials

Jasoda is as compelling and powerful as Nagarkar’s other novels but uniquely itself in the gut-wrenching story it tells of the sordid uses of power, the suffering it causes, and the human spirit that rises above it.
Nayantara Sahgal
Kiran Nagarkar’s Seven Sixes are Forty-three does not represent any style, system or genre. Or, for that matter, anything that can be generalized. It is the ticking of a very original mind, recorded and played back. It is the private view of Kushank looking at himself and at the world. In the telling of his story, Kiran Nagarkar has broken all the accepted rules in the book, to advantage.
SAI PARANJYPE The Times of India
No recent book has the strength and complexity of Cuckold, and none offers such rewards. By choosing the husband of Mirabai as his protagonist, Nagarkar is able to fashion a dazzling narrative infused with multiple layers of philosophical, historical and spiritual meaning. The book contains many moods and registers. These range from a vivid, racy narrative voice which mocks those who demand historical fiction be served up as a comfortable period piece, to scenes of harrowing realism, to astonishingly beautiful and tranquil depictions of places. Here is writing so immediate and sensuous it leaves the reader with almost physical memories. This is not all, for the book explores in a deeply personal, introspective vein and with great subtlety and intelligence the place of love, hate, good and evil in human life. Nagarkar crowns his achievement with a stunning, illuminating ending which raises the novel to another plane and opens the reader to new possibilities. This is a very important book, one which is deeply relevant to the contemporary world and yet will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
DR. SUSAN DARUVALA University of Cambridge
The good news is that Ravan and Eddie are back. The better news is that Nagarkar is in pitch-perfect form.You are never released from Nagarkar’s vision of the city, but you are almost unaware of being in its thrall. You are held by the ease with which this dystopia is limned with hope…The Extras is a magnificent book. It is ambitious in its sweep but intimate in its execution. Ravan and Eddie come back to life, but with the tough love of a Maharashtrian father, there is no soft landing.
JERRY PINTO Mumbai Time Out
A first-rate novel… Kiran Nagarkar is a born story-teller with an unerring eye for detail, skilled in the use of words and an artist of the erotica. He will go very far.
KHUSHWANT SINGH India Today
If the high powered action sucks us down to a spiral vortex of introspection, deep, sombre and meditative like the Gambhiree river which flows through his motherland, it is because in the Maharaj Kumar, we have a character of many dimensions. He can kill an enemy general in cold blooded treachery, he can also shower his wife with the parijata blossoms that he has himself gathered with care.It is the Maharaj Kumar who invests the rest of the cast with blood, flesh and spirit. He shifts the focus from light to shadow, romance to nightmare.
GOWRI NARAYANAN The Hindu
Kiran Nagarkar is that rare writer who has nothing to prove except fidelity to his characters….(He) is a genuine experimentalist: he combines in his writing a tremendous instinct for storytelling with a rare openness of imagination. He is willing to go where it takes him, express it in whatever form and through whichever language. What remains constant is his subversive pleasure in fiction for its own sake. It makes him one of our most precious writers.
ANJUM HASAN Caravan
(Ravan and Eddie is) one of the wittiest, bawdiest, most perceptive books in contemporary Indian English literature.
PREM PANICKER The Sunday Observer
Kiran Nagarkar has the touch of genius. In my opinion, he is amongst the best Indian writers of English fiction of our times… God's Little Soldier makes great reading.
KHUSHWANT SINGH Telegraph
Wicked, magical, hilarious, enduring: A masterpiece from one of world literature’s great cult writers.
KATHERINE BOO
(Nagarkar) is a born story-teller, thinker and has a way with words uniquely his own. His narration is larded with pithy observations of human behaviour, description of natural phenomenon, God, religion, music, political and social morality. And of course infused with delectable doses of erotica which though sensuous are never bawdy. You enjoy, you learn and you are made to think. What more can you ask for from an author?Cuckold is a historical fiction at its best.
KHUSHWANT SINGH Sunday Despatch
(F)ascinating, complex, rewarding…(the) work of a writer at the height of his talent… (God’s Little Soldier) is insistently readable.
SHASHI THAROOR Outlook
…Kiran Nagarkar, the leading Marathi writer whose novel Cuckold, written in English I regard as the best by an Indian…(Nagarkar) is a born story-teller, thinker and has a way with words uniquely his own. His narration is larded with pithy observations of human behaviour, description of natural phenomenon, God, religion, music, political and social morality. And of course infused with delectable doses of erotica which though sensuous are never bawdy. You enjoy, you learn and you are made to think. What more can you ask for from an author?Cuckold is a historical fiction at its best.
KHUSHWANT SINGH
"God's Little Soldier" is not a good book, rather an extraordinary one, a book which might become a true classic. What makes this novel so remarkable? First of all, it is Nagarkar's exuberant talent for storytelling. When this author describes a street in Bombay, you feel as if you had to brush the dust from your clothes afterwards. But Nagarkar is a cosmopolitan, giving a sensuous quality to his prose, whether he deals with London, California or Kabul or with mathematics or architecture. And what's more, this author boasts a fine sense of humour, sometimes sharp irony, and an equally astute eye for detail. But more importantly, Nagarkar cannot only write and describe, he also has something to say..."God's Little Soldier" is slapstick and satire at times, serious as a heart attack at others, but always completely without respect for any kind of worldly or godly authority which disregards human life. Some of the truest and most beautiful sentences in this book are: "There is only one God, and her name is life. She is the only one worthy of worship. All else is irrelevant."
DENIS SCHECK ARD – druckfrisch