On the art of storytelling: Dastango Syed Sahil Agha

Syed Sahil Agha - Dastango

Interviewing a storyteller is like listening to a fable – it is filled with anecdotes, short stories from yore and a feeling that you are sitting by the bonfire under a starlit sky, even though really I was under a white ceiling made of brick and steel and cement, in front of the drab but […]

Your writing is always within you, like a naughty monkey: PJJ Antony

PJJ Antony

I was first introduced to author PJJ Antony when I was working as the executive editor at Leadstart Publications, editing his translated collection of short stories, Come, Let Us Sin. We kept in touch after that, and his was often the first like on every onWriting post, even when we were not regularly active. Such […]

Under the stars: A storytelling festival in Udaipur

When you hear the word ‘story’ what comes to your mind? A picture book? An enchanted castle? A bonfire night with your friends, sharing ghost stories? Your grandparents’ voice? A ballad or a poem? Stories has become a near-cliche buzzword today, but the truth, as Yuval Noah Narari says in Sapiens, is that our world […]

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

On a bonfire night after a calamity that mostly scared and did not destroy, an elderly man sat next to me, and without provocation, began narrating the tales of his childhood that were a mix of passion and love, abandon and restraint, exuberance and melancholy. His honey-laced voice, a little raspy, waded with me through […]

Clouds by Chandrahas Choudhury

Mumbai is vast, with more people sailing into it than out. Chances are that two people, in separate corners of this nearly 3-hour-wide city, have similar views, a common thread that could bind them together. Now, a mutual friend thinks that this connection can lead to a lasting bond and introduces them to each other, […]

Night of Happiness by Tabish Khair

Author Tabish Khair’s Night of Happiness is a difficult tale to slot. It has elements of a thriller, and a paranormal tale, and also makes reference to real-life incidents like the Gujarat pogrom. The title of the book refers to the festival Shab-e-Barat, an occasion when certain Muslim communities visit the grave of their ancestors […]

Book covers have an archival quality and should be designed thus: Shiraz Husain Usmani

You may or may not have heard of him, but you will have heard of the Khwaab Tanha Collective, a visual design initiative that brings Urdu poetry and literature to life. Shiraz Husain Usmani, its founder, emanates that very same poetic streak. His emails begin with a gentle, Hello Prakruti Sahiba and end with the equally graceful Shukriya, with […]

Shiraz Husain: Capturing the death of a monarchy

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about City of My Heart by Rana Safvi, a book about the last days of the Mughals in India. Apart from the rich lesson in history, what caught my heart was its cover, an illustrated red fort, lit with dying lamps, and capturing the essence of the novel […]