Mr. Tarun Tejpal, the famous editor of Tehelka weekly, recently hogged the limelight for an altogether different reason.
The journalist, who shook the Indian political and military establishment a few years ago with an expose, coolly penned his novel, The Alchemy of Desire, while fighting the establishment's crackdown.
According to media reports, the novel sold out on the day it was released. No wonder as Tarun writes very well and his reputation is unsullied. Critics are already appreciating "the voice" he has used in the narrative.
Tarun's mentor, Sir V S Naipaul, has liked the first part of the book. That is, I guess, good enough a recommendation for Tarun.
I think every English-educated Indian, whether he did or did not study at Oxbridge, is writing a novel or two these days, apart from doing his day job as a diplomat or a journalist.
Arundhati Ray's success has had huge impact on the Indians of all ages. Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi was 17 when he witnessed the phenomenal success of Roy. He was inspired. The result is his debut novel, The Last Song of Dusk. Only God knows, out of 1 billion Indians, how many more she has infected with the virus of seeking publishing success.
To make things clear, let me admit, I was not inspired by Roy. I had decided to become a writer in the pre-Roy India, if may say so. At that time, the only Indian writers I knew were Narayan, Rao, Sehgal, Naipaul, Rushdie and others.
At the rate the Indians are writing novels, the day is not far when it will be de rigueur for every educated Indian to have penned a novel--sort of a rite of passage of being an educated Indian.
Remember the line, "Scratch an Indian and you will find a novelist." (It is like the line from Dr. Zhivago: "Scratch a Russian and you will find a farmer.")
Do you know who said it?
None other than our honourable Tarun Tejpal.
Did I hear you say, look, who's talking?