Frontlist | 'The Time of the Peacock' Book review: Small and SwellFrontlist | 'The Time of the Peacock' Book review: Small and Swell
on Mar 22, 2021
In the Delhi publishing world, where everyone knows everybody, down to the colour of one’s socks, the book takes one through the Indian literary scene. Good things come in small packages! the petite Shanaaz Kapadia, a dear friend from another lifetime, another incarnation, always reminded me. Her words still ring in my ears. True! True! I nod as I hold this slim volume of Siddharth Chowdhury's The Time of the Peacock, adding: More than a handful is a waste! At the book launch of 'Best in Show: The Peacock Book of Indo-Anglian Fiction', John Nair, managing editor, Peacock India, throws a party to end all parties. All the literary stars are going to be there: the Seths, the Roys, the Chaudharis, among others. And into this haloed gathering walks Nair's old friend, Ritwik Ray, the slightly off-kilter bard of Patna, with a new novel in hand: 'Godse Chowk'. Mayhem ensues. In the Delhi publishing world, where everyone knows everybody, down to the colour of one’s socks, the book takes one through the Indian literary scene. It is loosely slotted into three parts. It takes the reader through the paces of the Indian publishing world as seen through the mirage of Delhi. Only the naïve would believe that all it takes to write a good book is just good writing! So much else is poured into the witches' brew: There is marketing; there is politics and there is, after all, the bubbling mind of the book buyer. We imagine board meetings of publishers, marketers sending out review copies and editors cracking their heads over a manuscript. But there is much more vogue, drama, stratagem and powerplay that goes into making the perfect book that comes out into the market. The book is structured to show you the publishing world’s complexity. First, the editor plans an extravagant party for what he is sure is going to be a bestselling book by a Dalit author. Must Read - Idris Elba to write a children’s series Four new books to read this March ‘Before She Sleeps’ book review: Reluctance, Rebellion, Revolt Then the second part takes you through the gamut of the successful writer being flocked by interviews and praiseworthy reviews. But no one is sure whether the new book will have the magic of the first one. The last part is the tale of an author whose sales graph once placed on the wall, no longer looks like a jet taking off. Those who enter this Dantesque world do so at their own peril. It’s a world of dog eat dog where only the fittest can survive. And they have to learn to be content and learn to peep into the abyss. Chowdhury's prose is deceptively simple as he probes the fault lines of the publishing industry; the crass materialism of a book launch that makes a publisher look much more than just money-bags or an ATM. Eminently readable! Source: newindianexpress.com
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