“Books helped me realize what literature was, my family helped me realize what story telling was,” says Anosh Irani, as he makes the audience realize the craft which he used to weave his works – The Cripple and His Talismans, Dahanu Road, The Song of Kahunsha to name a few.
Away from the spotlight and hundreds of hawking eyes, he sits by the lounge to sign his books with a perpetual smile. Dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, the contrast is almost depictive of his character – honest and open-minded.
“I wouldn’t have any stories to tell,” he adds. His works mainly come out as snapshots of the childhood which he spent in Bombay as is seen in his novels and essays.
Speaking about the bridge between the two countries Canada and India, he says, “What Canada gave me was the distance – Not only geographical, but also the perspective of being away from Bombay.”
According to Irani, place is something which should matter the least for a story-teller. “It’s all about writing a good story and how good a novelist you are,” says Vancouver-based novelist.
“When I open the album I see pictures of coffins: finger coffins, arm coffins, toe coffins. It surprises me how much I do not know about this city. Tomorrow I might meet a midget who is ten feet tall, a butcher who sells newborn babies, a boxer who works as an anesthetist in a hospital by knocking patients senseless” – While these lines from his novel, The Cripple and his Craftsmen, portray a gruesome picture of Bombay, one wonders about the delicacy of issues which might trigger the alarm of Taboo, a much infested disease in India today.
Irani waves off such thoughts with a careless smile as he says, “It’s all a work of fiction. There is no question in portraying Bombay in a good or bad light.”
This aptly takes one to the comment which he made in the session back in the hall. He said, “Books that make you feel good are bad.” Not surprising that his surreal description attracts readers in vast numbers today.
Being a recipient of several awards and a nominee for many, he holds dear the idea of award ceremonies for literary fiction. “Visibility”, he says pointing at the shelves of short-listed books for Hindu Literary Award “is vital for any writer. Awards are important to get audience.”
However, when asked about his favourite pick from the short-list, he dodges the question with a smile and instead says, “When one writer wins, four others don’t and your heart goes out to them.”
This article was published in The Hindu – Metro plus – Nxg On March 13, 2013. Here is the link to the published version – Spinning a fictional yarn