Jeet Thayil: ‘I have a liver condition, I’m reckless and I’m very aware that time is limited’

The former addict whose novel Narcopolis was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize on the western whitewashing of saints and the diagnosis that forced him to write

Jeet Thayil is everywhere at the Jaipur literary festival. The poet, novelist and former drug addict moves between panels on the future of the novel, moderating sessions with poets and a spoken word gig. He also finds time to talk about his new novel, The Book of Chocolate Saints, which, he says, “reclaims for the east the historical figures that had been whitewashed by the west, from Jesus Christ to Saint Augustine”. In person, the 58-year-old is softly spoken, polite and extremely self-contained. At several points during our time together, there are long pauses. In those moments, he cries.

Thayil’s work draws deeply on life experiences from which many would not recover. His years as a drug addict in Mumbai and New ...

When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy – review

The raw material of domestic abuse leads to a meditation on writing and a searing examination of a woman’s place in contemporary Indian society
Meena Kandasamy’s scorching 2014 debut, The Gypsy Goddess, explored caste, poverty and violence in southern India. Her second novel tells the story of a newly-wed writer experiencing rapid social isolation and extreme violence at her husband’s hands. Kandasamy has written about her own marriage for the Indian magazine Outlook in 2012; now, using an unnamed narrator speaking in an urgent, first-person voice, When I Hit You: Or, a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Wife gives us “a woman at whom society cannot spit or throw stones, because this me is a she who is made up only of words on a page, and the lines she speaks are those that everyone hears in their own voice”. Continue reading...