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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Monday, October 08, 2007


The year was 2005. The month March. A proof of 'Tokyo Cancelled' had arrived on my desk. It was Rana Dasgupta's debut, which was well on its way to setting literary circuits ablaze.

Critics hailed it as the 'Canterbury Tales for our times', 'an epic story', 'a timeless fairytale ethos' - could a first time author ask for more? That was one of the many questions that played in my head as I started the nail Rana down for a phoner chase. It finally happened when he was on his promotional tour in London.

The story was intriguing - 13 passengers stranded at an airport. Tokyo, their destination, is covered in snow and all flights cancelled. To pass the night they form a huddle by the silent baggage carousels and tell each other stories. Rana spoke at length about how this narrative evolved. About lives in transit and stories from the great cities that grew into the stunning novel which is about the hopes, dreams and disappointments that connect people everywhere.

"This book is not about solving things but asking certain questions," he's said before. And much of it has evolved from Rana's own travels across the globe. A former marketing professional, he has had "a great appreciation for journeys. I tend to prefer the kind of wisdom that comes from travel than the kind that comes from staying in one place."

Interestingly enough, he started writing the book for himself and his immediate circle of friends and a publishing contract came along the way - from Toby Eady no less.

If you missed hearing him at the Ubud Writers Festival, you'll get another chance soon enough.

He'll be passing through Singapore early November. Watch this space for details of an engagement with a fine literary mind.

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