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Archive for January 15th, 2020

Kiran Bhat was born in Jonesboro, Georgia to parents from villages in Dakshina Kannada, India. An avid world traveler, polyglot, and digital nomad, he has currently traveled to more than 130 countries, lived in 18 different places, and speaks 12 languages. He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Website  → http://iguanabooks.ca/

About the Book

The Internet has connected – and continues to connect – billions of people around the world, sometimes in surprising ways. In his sprawling new novel, we of the forsaken world, author Kiran Bhat has turned the fact of that once-unimaginable connectivity into a metaphor for life itself.

In, we of the forsaken world, Bhat follows the fortunes of 16 people who live in four distinct places on the planet. The gripping stories include those of a man’s journey to the birthplace of his mother, a tourist town destroyed by an industrial spill; a chief’s second son born in a nameless remote tribe, creating a scramble for succession as their jungles are destroyed by loggers; a homeless, one-armed woman living in a sprawling metropolis who sets out to take revenge on the men who trafficked her; and a milkmaid in a small village of shanty shacks connected only by a mud and concrete road who watches the girls she calls friends destroy her reputation.

Like modern communication networks, the stories in , we of the forsaken world connect along subtle lines, dispersing at the moments where another story is about to take place. Each story is a parable unto itself, but the tales also expand to engulf the lives of everyone who lives on planet Earth, at every second, everywhere.

As Bhat notes, his characters “largely live their own lives, deal with their own problems, and exist independently of the fact that they inhabit the same space. This becomes a parable of globalization, but in a literary text.”

Bhat continues:  “I wanted to imagine a globalism, but one that was bottom-to-top, and using globalism to imagine new terrains, for the sake of fiction, for the sake of humanity’s intellectual growth.”

“These are stories that could be directly ripped from our headlines. I think each of these stories is very much its own vignette, and each of these vignettes gives a lot of insight into human nature, as a whole.”

we of the forsaken world takes pride of place next to such notable literary works as David Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS, a finalist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for 2004, and Mohsin Hamid’s EXIT WEST, which was listed by the New York Times as one of its Best Books of 2017.

Bhat’s epic also stands comfortably with the works of contemporary visionaries such as Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick.

 

Order Your Copy

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2DQIclm

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/2Lqe9Fi

Interview:

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Joyce Carol Oates once called me a born writer, so I would rather she say it, not me. But, yes, at the risk of sounding vain, I see myeslf as the only person who can do the things I do, and this space belongs very much to myself.

What was your inspiration for we, of the forsaken world…?

we, of the forsaken world… came to me in 2011, when I was on a bus between Dubrovnik and Zagreb. A tall, brunette woman with a lingering stare sat down next to me on one of the stops. We began to talk about a host of things I can’t remember now, but the one thing that she told me which did remain in my head was the following: Croatia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Something about that sentence inspired my imagination. After we reached the bus station, I had to sit on one of the metal benches for a few hours, and write. I was starting to imagine different countries, completely imagined in my head. One was a half-rich half poor megalopolis, the sort found in most third-world countries. Then, there was a town that wasn’t so different looking from my grandmother’s place, the southern Indian city of Mysore. There was a tribe in the middle of nowhere, not to mention a town of great touristic importance, destroyed by an industrial spill. I also imagined hundreds of voices. Though, over the course of time, those two hundred-so voices became around sixteen; the most distinct and boisterous of the lot.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I started it in 2011, and I finished it in 2017. So, I would say about 6-7 years.

Are you disciplined?

Describe a typical writing day. I am quite a disciplined writer. I tend to work continuously for about 3-4 hours from the moment I wake up until it is time for lunch. In that time, I am usually able to do about 2,000 words. Sometimes, my writing is good, and sometimes it is bad, but I think that what is most important is getting it done.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Trying to make sure the structure worked. I wanted to merge the narratives of unrelated voices into a seamless narrative using the power of language, in the same way that digital networks blur the minds of billions of people into a place-less interface. I had to keep playing with the structure until I found something that worked (in this case, it was these poetic interludes, switching from one narrative to another).

What do you love most about being an author?

I think one thing that makes me really happy these days is feeling like I am being recognized for something which I have been doing for ages; people, from friends to family members, are finally eseing me as an author, and giving my art and vision respect, and that feeling of validation is simply priceless.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I had finished the book in 2016. One of my friends, who was an editor at a small press in New York, gave me a list of agents to contact. Most of them responsed stealthily and quickly, but after some months, they did not find my book – experimental, ambitious, overtly literary – to be a quick fit for the market. They had to turn it down. After about a year of waiting for these agents to respond, I started submitting to small presses. It was in 2019 that I got a response from an editor at Iguana Books. They were interested in publishing the book. I told them that I was still waiting for some other publishers to respond, so I asked them to wait for some weeks so that I could get some responses. Within two weeks, this same editor emailed me, asking me to follow up. He really liked this book, and wanted to publish it.

Before my work with Iguana Books, I hadn’t had a publisher respond to me so positively. Admittedly, Iguana Books is a hybrid press. This means that they vet every book project that they take on, but they ask the author to take on the financial burdens of publication. This still did not mean that they had to care so much about my writing. They did a lot of work, from the editorial stages, to the design of the cover, and the maps that I asked to have tailored onto the book itself, to make sure that the book was aesthetically enriched. They spent a lot of time with me talking on the phone, making sure all of my needs were met, from last-minute changes to a sentence or two, to having my books flown to Hong Kong or Delhi for the sake of book festivals. I do not think having been published by a hybrid press has downgraded the quality of my work in any way; if anything, I am glad to have had people who believe as fondly in my vision as I do. It makes me look forward to later publications, as well as the future of my career.

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