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That’s rich!

Published : Sep 27, 2016, 10:20 pm IST
Updated : Sep 27, 2016, 10:20 pm IST

A young and handsome business tycoon’s dubious route to riches.

Kingpin by Kavita Daswani, Speaking Tiger pp.248, Rs 299
 Kingpin by Kavita Daswani, Speaking Tiger pp.248, Rs 299

A young and handsome business tycoon’s dubious route to riches.

Author Kavita Daswani grew up enjoying the craft of writing and appreciating the association with words. “I remember being eight years old and at school in Hong Kong (which is where I grew up), and my English teacher frequently reading out my essays in class. I began working as a freelance journalist when I was 17, picking up assignments from local magazines and newspapers. I was a fashion editor for several years, lived in London and Paris for a while, and then moved to Los Angeles in 2000, when I got married. I’ve never stopped writing, whether it was features for magazines or novels,” she shares.

Her recently released book Kingpin is the story of a 26-year-old business tycoon Anil Raichand, who is young, handsome and one of the most sought-after bachelors in society. Unfolding over four decades, the book takes the reader on a journey tracing Anil’s boyhood in Singapore to his foray into the Bombay marriage market, his falling in love with the wrong lady and his meteoric rise and fall in Dubai.

Giving an insight into the main protagonist of her book, she says, “Anil Raichand is an amalgamation of various men I’ve encountered over the years, fictionalised. I wanted to create somebody who was very much under the control of his parents, who lived his life according to their expectations of him, and society’s as well. He was born with wealth and privilege, and he measures himself by what he can accumulate. He does a lot of things for wrong reasons.”

This is Kavita’s eighth novel, and interestingly her first one where the story is told primarily from a man's point of view. “I wanted to create a story about a man who has everything — money, looks, pedigree, smarts — but somehow manages to spectacularly mess things up,” she says.

The author likes to keep the themes simple and relatable. “My main characters have always been Indian, the stories have always been cross-cultural, generally light, vaguely memoir-ish, and I try to fill them with warmth. I marvel at the skill of, say, historical fiction writers who spend years researching about a time period, country or culture,” says the author who loves contemporary fiction. “I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, which I couldn’t put down. I never thought I’d be interested in a story about a 19th century female botanist, but it was so gorgeous and moving and evocative and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read,” she adds.

Summarising her writing process, Kavita says, “It’s a mystery, the whole process. It is impossible for any writer to explain how they get to where they are going. It is an odd alchemy of luck, timing, and hope that imagination will strike, and sometimes, no matter what you do, it does not. I never know where a book is going when I start it, or maybe I do but then I change it anyway. There are some authors who are assiduous note-keepers and planners. I’m not among them, although I wish I was. It would probably make my life a lot easier to jot something down, instead of me trying to rummage around in my memory for a great thought I had two days earlier.”

Flexing her creative muscles, Kavita already has an idea brewing in her mind. She shares, “I’m writing a young adult book that is my first one without an Indian protagonist. It’s set entirely in the US and is a supernatural teen romance. I wanted to do something different. And I’m also beginning work on the final book in the Bombay Girl trilogy.”