Sneak Preview of ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ (Secretly Written by J.K Rowling)


Pro­logue            68813_495762773837687_1167583344_n

The buzz in the street was like the hum­ming of flies. Pho­tog­ra­phers stood massed be­hind bar­ri­ers pa­trolled by po­lice, their long-snout­ed cam­eras poised, their breath ris­ing like steam. Snow fell steadi­ly on to hats and shoul­ders; gloved fin­gers wiped lens­es clear. From time to time there came out­breaks of desul­to­ry click­ing, as the watch­ers filled the wait­ing time by snap­ping the white can­vas tent in the mid­dle of the road, the en­trance to the tall red-brick apart­ment block be­hind it, and the bal­cony on the top floor from which the body had fall­en.

Be­hind the tight­ly packed pa­parazzi stood white vans with enor­mous satel­lite dish­es on the roofs, and jour­nal­ists talk­ing, some in for­eign lan­guages, while sound­men in head­phones hov­ered. Be­tween record­ings, the re­porters stamped their feet and warmed their hands on hot beakers of cof­fee from the teem­ing café a few streets away. To fill the time, the wool­ly-hat­ted cam­er­a­men filmed the backs of the pho­tog­ra­phers, the bal­cony, the tent con­ceal­ing the body, then repo­si­tioned them­selves for wide shots that en­com­passed the chaos that had ex­plod­ed in­side the se­date and snowy May­fair street, with its lines of glossy black doors framed by white stone por­ti­cos and flanked by top­i­ary shrubs. The en­trance to num­ber 18 was bound­ed with tape. Po­lice of­fi­cials, some of them white-clothed foren­sic ex­perts, could be glimpsed in the hall­way be­yond.

The tele­vi­sion sta­tions had al­ready had the news for sev­er­al hours. Mem­bers of the pub­lic were crowd­ing at ei­ther end of the road, held at bay by more po­lice; some had come, on pur­pose, to look, oth­ers had paused on their way to work. Many held mo­bile tele­phones aloft to take pic­tures be­fore mov­ing on. One young man, not know­ing which was the cru­cial bal­cony, pho­tographed each of them in turn, even though the mid­dle one was packed with a row of shrubs, three neat, leafy orbs, which bare­ly left room for a human being.

A group of young girls had brought flow­ers, and were filmed hand­ing them to the po­lice, who as yet had not de­cid­ed on a place for them, but laid them self-con­scious­ly in the back of the po­lice van, aware of cam­era lens­es fol­low­ing their every move.

The cor­re­spon­dents sent by twen­ty-four-hour news chan­nels kept up a steady stream of com­ment and spec­u­la­tion around the few sen­sa­tion­al facts they knew.

‘… from her pent­house apart­ment at around two o’clock this morn­ing. Po­lice were alert­ed by the build­ing’s se­cu­ri­ty guard…⁠’

‘… no sign yet that they are mov­ing the body, which has led some to spec­u­late…⁠’

‘… no word on whether she was alone when she fell…⁠’

‘… teams have en­tered the build­ing and will be con­duct­ing a thor­ough search.’

A chilly light filled the in­te­ri­or of the tent. Two men were crouch­ing be­side the body, ready to move it, at last, into a body bag. Her head had bled a lit­tle into the snow. The face was crushed and swollen, one eye re­duced to a puck­er, the other show­ing as a sliv­er of dull white be­tween dis­tend­ed lids. When the se­quinned top she wore glit­tered in slight changes of light, it gave a dis­qui­et­ing im­pres­sion of move­ment, as though she breathed again, or was tens­ing mus­cles, ready to rise. The snow fell with soft fin­ger­tip plunks on the can­vas over­head.

‘Where’s the bloody am­bu­lance?’

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Roy Carv­er’s tem­per was mount­ing. A paunchy man with a face the colour of corned beef, whose shirts were usu­al­ly ringed with sweat around the armpits, his short sup­ply of pa­tience had been ex­haust­ed hours ago. He had been here near­ly as long as the corpse; his feet were so cold that he could no longer feel them, and he was light-head­ed with hunger.

‘Am­bu­lance is two min­utes away,’ said De­tec­tive Sergeant Eric War­dle, un­in­ten­tion­al­ly an­swer­ing his su­pe­ri­or’s ques­tion as he en­tered the tent with his mo­bile pressed to his ear. ‘Just been or­gan­is­ing a space for it.’

Carv­er grunt­ed. His bad tem­per was ex­ac­er­bat­ed by the con­vic­tion that War­dle was ex­cit­ed by the pres­ence of the pho­tog­ra­phers. Boy­ish­ly good-look­ing, with thick, wavy brown hair now frost­ed with snow, War­dle had, in Carv­er’s opin­ion, daw­dled on their few for­ays out­side the tent.

‘At least that lot’ll shift once the body’s gone,’ said War­dle, still look­ing out at the pho­tog­ra­phers.

‘They won’t go while we’re still treat­ing the place like a fuck­ing mur­der scene,’ snapped Carv­er.

War­dle did not an­swer the un­spo­ken chal­lenge. Carv­er ex­plod­ed any­way.

‘The poor cow jumped. There was no one else there. Your so-called wit­ness was coked out of her—’

‘It’s com­ing,’ said War­dle, and to Carv­er’s dis­gust, he slipped back out of the tent, to wait for the am­bu­lance in full sight of the cam­eras.

The story forced news of pol­i­tics, wars and dis­as­ters aside, and every ver­sion of it sparkled with pic­tures of the dead woman’s flaw­less face, her lithe and sculpt­ed body. With­in hours, the few known facts had spread like a virus to mil­lions: the pub­lic row with the fa­mous boyfriend, the jour­ney home alone, the over­heard scream­ing and the final, fatal fall…

The boyfriend fled into a rehab fa­cil­i­ty, but the po­lice re­mained in­scrutable; those who had been with her on the evening be­fore her death were hound­ed; thou­sands of columns of newsprint were filled, and hours of tele­vi­sion news, and the woman who swore she had over­heard a sec­ond ar­gu­ment mo­ments be­fore the body fell be­came briefly fa­mous too, and was award­ed small­er-sized pho­tographs be­side the im­ages of the beau­ti­ful dead girl.

But then, to an al­most au­di­ble groan of dis­ap­point­ment, the wit­ness was proven to have lied, and she re­treat­ed into rehab, and the fa­mous prime sus­pect emerged, as the man and the lady in a weath­er-house who can never be out­side at the same time.

So it was sui­cide after all, and after a mo­ment’s stunned hia­tus, the story gained a weak sec­ond wind. They wrote that she was un­bal­anced, un­sta­ble, un­suit­ed to the su­per­star­dom her wild­ness and her beau­ty had snared; that she had moved among an im­moral mon­eyed class that had cor­rupt­ed her; that the deca­dence of her new life had un­hinged an al­ready frag­ile per­son­al­i­ty. She be­came a moral­i­ty tale stiff with Schaden­freude, and so many colum­nists made al­lu­sion to Icarus that Pri­vate Eye ran a spe­cial col­umn.

And then, at last, the fren­zy wore it­self into stal­e­ness, and even the jour­nal­ists had noth­ing left to say, but that too much had been said al­ready.

 

Three Months Later

Part One

 Nam in omni ad­ver­si­tate for­tu­nae in­fe­li­cis­si­mum est genus in­for­tu­nii, fuisse fe­licem.

For in every ill-turn of for­tune

the most un­hap­py sort of un­for­tu­nate man

is the one who has been happy.

Boethius, De Con­so­la­tione Philosophi­ae

Though Robin El­la­cott’s twen­ty-five years of life had seen their mo­ments of drama and in­ci­dent, she had never be­fore woken up in the cer­tain knowl­edge that she would re­mem­ber the com­ing day for as long as she lived.

Short­ly after mid­night, her long-term boyfriend, Matthew, had pro­posed to her under the stat­ue of Eros in the mid­dle of Pic­cadil­ly Cir­cus. In the giddy re­lief fol­low­ing her ac­cep­tance, he con­fessed that he had been plan­ning to pop the ques­tion in the Thai restau­rant where they just had eaten din­ner, but that he had reck­oned with­out the silent cou­ple be­side them, who had eaves­dropped on their en­tire con­ver­sa­tion. He had there­fore sug­gest­ed a walk through the dark­en­ing streets, in spite of Robin’s protests that they both need­ed to be up early, and fi­nal­ly in­spi­ra­tion had seized him, and he had led her, be­wil­dered, to the steps of the stat­ue. There, fling­ing dis­cre­tion to the chilly wind (in a most un-Matthew-like way), he had pro­posed, on one knee, in front of three down-and-outs hud­dled on the steps, shar­ing what looked like a bot­tle of meths.

It had been, in Robin’s view, the most per­fect pro­pos­al, ever, in the his­to­ry of mat­ri­mo­ny. He had even had a ring in his pock­et, which she was now wear­ing; a sap­phire with two di­a­monds, it fit­ted per­fect­ly, and all the way into town she kept star­ing at it on her hand as it rest­ed on her lap. She and Matthew had a story to tell now, a funny fam­i­ly story, the kind you told your chil­dren, in which his plan­ning (she loved that he had planned it) went awry, and turned into some­thing spon­ta­neous. She loved the tramps, and the moon, and Matthew, pan­icky and flus­tered, on one knee; she loved Eros, and dirty old Pic­cadil­ly, and the black

cab they had taken home to Clapham. She was, in fact, not far off lov­ing the whole of Lon­don, which she had not so far warmed to, dur­ing the month she had lived there. Even the pale and pug­na­cious com­muters squashed into the Tube car­riage around her were gild­ed by the ra­di­ance of the ring, and as she emerged into the chilly March day­light at Tot­ten­ham Court Road un­der­ground sta­tion, she stroked the un­der­side of the plat­inum band with her thumb, and ex­pe­ri­enced an ex­plo­sion of hap­pi­ness at the thought that she might buy some bridal mag­a­zines at lunchtime.

Male eyes lin­gered on her as she picked her way through the road­works at the top of Ox­ford Street, con­sult­ing a piece of paper in her right hand. Robin was, by any stan­dards, a pret­ty girl; tall and cur­va­ceous, with long straw­ber­ry-blonde hair that rip­pled as she strode briskly along, the chill air adding colour to her pale cheeks. This was the first day of a week-long sec­re­tar­i­al as­sign­ment. She had been temp­ing ever since com­ing to live with Matthew in Lon­don, though not for much longer; she had what she termed ‘prop­er’ in­ter­views lined up now.

The most chal­leng­ing part of these unin­spir­ing piece­meal jobs was often find­ing the of­fices. Lon­don, after the small town in York­shire she had left, felt vast, com­plex and im­pen­e­tra­ble. Matthew had told her not to walk around with her nose in an A–Z, which would make her look like a tourist and ren­der her vul­ner­a­ble; she there­fore re­lied, as often as not, on poor­ly hand-drawn maps that some­body at the temp­ing agen­cy had made for her. She was not con­vinced that this made her look more like a na­tive-born Lon­don­er.

The metal bar­ri­cades and the blue plas­tic Corimec walls sur­round­ing the road­works made it much hard­er to see where she ought to be going, be­cause they ob­scured half the land­marks drawn on the paper in her hand. She crossed the torn-up road in front of a tow­er­ing of­fice block, la­belled ‘Cen­tre Point’ on her map, which re­sem­bled a gi­gan­tic con­crete waf­fle with its dense grid of uni­form square win­dows, and made her way in the rough di­rec­tion of Den­mark Street.

She found it al­most ac­ci­den­tal­ly, fol­low­ing a nar­row al­ley­way called Den­mark Place out into a short street full of colour­ful shopfronts: win­dows full of gui­tars, key­boards and every kind of mu­si­cal ephemera. Red and white bar­ri­cades sur­round­ed an­oth­er open hole in the road, and work­men in flu­o­res­cent jack­ets greet­ed her with ear­ly-morn­ing wolf-whis­tles, which Robin pre­tend­ed not to hear.

She con­sult­ed her watch. Hav­ing al­lowed her usual mar­gin of time for get­ting lost, she was a quar­ter of an hour early. The non­de­script black-paint­ed door­way of the of­fice she sought stood to the left of the 12 Bar Café; the name of the oc­cu­pant of the of­fice was writ­ten on a scrap­py piece of lined paper Sel­l­otaped be­side the buzzer for the sec­ond floor. On an or­di­nary day, with­out the brand-new ring glit­ter­ing upon her fin­ger, she might have found this off-putting; today, how­ev­er, the dirty paper and the peel­ing paint on the door were, like the tramps from last night, mere pic­turesque de­tails on the back­drop of her grand ro­mance. She checked her watch again (the sap­phire glit­tered and her heart leapt; she would watch that stone glit­ter all the rest of her life), then de­cid­ed, in a burst of eu­pho­ria, to go up early and show her­self keen for a job that did not mat­ter in the slight­est.

She had just reached for the bell when the black door flew open from the in­side, and a woman burst out on to the street. For one strange­ly stat­ic sec­ond the two of them looked di­rect­ly into each other’s eyes, as each braced to with­stand a col­li­sion. Robin’s sens­es were un­usu­al­ly re­cep­tive on this en­chant­ed morn­ing; the split-sec­ond view of that white face made such an im­pres­sion on her that she thought, mo­ments later, when they had man­aged to dodge each other, miss­ing con­tact by a cen­time­tre, after the dark woman had hur­ried off down the street, around the cor­ner and out of sight, that she could have drawn her per­fect­ly from mem­o­ry. It was not mere­ly the ex­traor­di­nary beau­ty of the face that had im­pressed it­self on her mem­o­ry, but the other’s ex­pres­sion: livid, yet strange­ly ex­hil­a­rat­ed.

Robin caught the door be­fore it closed on the dingy stair­well. An old-fash­ioned metal stair­case spi­ralled up around an equal­ly an­ti­quat­ed bird­cage lift. Con­cen­trat­ing on keep­ing her high heels from catch­ing in the met­al­work stairs, she pro­ceed­ed to the first land­ing, pass­ing a door car­ry­ing a lam­i­nat­ed and framed poster say­ing Crowdy Graph­ics, and con­tin­ued climb­ing. It was only when she reached the glass door on the floor above that Robin re­alised, for the first time, what kind of busi­ness she had been sent to as­sist. No­body at the agen­cy had said. The name on the paper be­side the out­side buzzer was en­graved on the glass panel: C. B. Strike, and, un­der­neath it, the words Pri­vate De­tec­tive.

Robin stood quite still, with her mouth slight­ly open, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mo­ment of won­der that no­body who knew her could have un­der­stood. She had never con­fid­ed in a soli­tary human being (even Matthew) her life­long, se­cret, child­ish am­bi­tion. For this to hap­pen today, of all days! It felt like a wink from God (and this too she some­how con­nect­ed with the magic of the day; with Matthew, and the ring; even though, prop­er­ly con­sid­ered, they had no con­nec­tion at all).

Savour­ing the mo­ment, she ap­proached the en­graved door very slow­ly. She stretched out her left hand (sap­phire dark, now, in this dim light) to­wards the han­dle; but be­fore she had touched it, the glass door too flew open.

This time, there was no near-miss. Six­teen un­see­ing stone of di­shev­elled male slammed into her; Robin was knocked off her feet and cat­a­pult­ed back­wards, hand­bag fly­ing, arms wind­milling, to­wards the void be­yond the lethal stair­case.

Strike ab­sorbed the im­pact, heard the high-pitched scream and re­act­ed in­stinc­tive­ly: throw­ing out a long arm, he seized a fist­ful of cloth and flesh; a sec­ond shriek of pain echoed around the stone walls and then, with a wrench and a tus­sle, he had suc­ceed­ed in drag­ging the girl back on to firm ground. Her shrieks were still echo­ing off the walls, and he re­alised that he him­self had bel­lowed, ‘Jesus Christ!’

The girl was dou­bled up in pain against the of­fice door, whim­per­ing. Judg­ing by the lop­sid­ed way she was hunched, with one hand buried deep under the lapel of her coat, Strike de­duced that he had saved her by grab­bing a sub­stan­tial part of her left breast. A thick, wavy cur­tain of bright blonde hair hid most of the girl’s blush­ing face, but Strike could see tears of pain leak­ing out of one un­cov­ered eye.

‘Fuck – sorry!’ His loud voice re­ver­ber­at­ed around the stair­well. ‘I didn’t see you – didn’t ex­pect any­one to be there…⁠’

From under their feet, the strange and soli­tary graph­ic de­sign­er who in­hab­it­ed the of­fice below yelled, ‘What’s hap­pen­ing up there?’ and a sec­ond later, a muf­fled com­plaint from above in­di­cat­ed that the man­ag­er of the bar down­stairs, who slept in an attic flat over Strike’s of­fice, had also been dis­turbed – per­haps woken – by the noise.

‘Come in here…⁠’

Strike pushed open the door with his fin­ger­tips, so as to have no ac­ci­den­tal con­tact with her while she stood hud­dled against it, and ush­ered her into the of­fice.

‘Is ev­ery­thing all right?’ called the graph­ic de­sign­er queru­lous­ly.

Strike slammed the of­fice door be­hind him.

‘I’m OK,’ lied Robin, in a qua­ver­ing voice, still hunched over with her hand on her chest, her back to him. After a sec­ond or two, she straight­ened up and turned around, her face scar­let and her eyes still wet.

Her ac­ci­den­tal as­sailant was mas­sive; his height, his gen­er­al hairi­ness, cou­pled with a gen­tly ex­pand­ing belly, sug­gest­ed a griz­zly bear. One of his eyes was puffy and bruised, the skin just below the eye­brow cut. Con­geal­ing blood sat in raised white-edged nail tracks on his left cheek and the right side of his thick neck, re­vealed by the crum­pled open col­lar of his shirt.

‘Are you M-Mr Strike?’

‘Yeah.’

‘I-I’m the temp.’

‘The what?’

‘The temp. From Tem­po­rary So­lu­tions?’

The name of the agen­cy did not wipe the in­cred­u­lous look from his bat­tered face. They stared at each other, un­nerved and an­tag­o­nis­tic.

Just like Robin, Cor­moran Strike knew that he would for­ev­er re­mem­ber the last twelve hours as an epoch-chang­ing night in his life. Now, it seemed, the Fates had sent an emis­sary in a neat beige trench coat, to taunt him with the fact that his life was bub­bling to­wards catas­tro­phe. There was not sup­posed to be a temp. He had in­tend­ed his dis­missal of Robin’s pre­de­ces­sor to end his con­tract.

‘How long have they sent you for?’

‘A-a week to begin with,’ said Robin, who had never been greet­ed with such a lack of en­thu­si­asm.

Strike made a rapid men­tal cal­cu­la­tion. A week at the agen­cy’s ex­or­bi­tant rate would drive his over­draft yet fur­ther into the re­gion of ir­repara­ble; it might even be the final straw his main cred­i­tor kept im­ply­ing he was wait­ing for.

‘’Scuse me a mo­ment.’

He left the room via the glass door, and turned im­me­di­ate­ly right, into a tiny dank toi­let. Here he bolt­ed the door, and stared into the cracked, spot­ted mir­ror over the sink.

The re­flec­tion star­ing back at him was not hand­some. Strike had the high, bulging fore­head, broad nose and thick brows of a young Beethoven who had taken to box­ing, an im­pres­sion only height­ened by the swelling and black­en­ing eye. His thick curly hair, springy as car­pet, had en­sured that his many youth­ful nick­names had in­clud­ed ‘Pube­head’. He looked older than his thir­ty-five years.

Ram­ming the plug into the hole, he filled the cracked and grub­by sink with cold water, took a deep breath and com­plete­ly sub­merged his throb­bing head. Dis­placed water slopped over his shoes, but he ig­nored it for the re­lief of ten sec­onds of icy, blind still­ness.

Dis­parate im­ages of the pre­vi­ous night flick­ered through his mind: emp­ty­ing three draw­ers of pos­ses­sions into a kit­bag while Char­lotte screamed at him; the ash­tray catch­ing him on the brow-bone as he looked back at her from the door; the jour­ney on foot across the dark city to his of­fice, where he had slept for an hour or two in his desk chair. Then the final, filthy scene, after Char­lotte had tracked him down in the early hours, to plunge in those last fewban­der­il­las she had failed to im­plant be­fore he had left her flat; his res­o­lu­tion to let her go when, after claw­ing his face, she had run out of the door; and then that mo­ment of mad­ness when he had plunged after her – a pur­suit ended as quick­ly as it had begun, with the un­wit­ting in­ter­ven­tion of this heed­less, su­per­flu­ous girl, whom he had been forced to save, and then pla­cate.

He emerged from the cold water with a gasp and a grunt, his face and head pleas­ant­ly numb and tin­gling. With the card­board-tex­tured towel that hung on the back of the door he rubbed him­self dry and stared again at his grim re­flec­tion. The scratch­es, washed clean of blood, looked like noth­ing more than the im­pres­sions of a crum­pled pil­low. Char­lotte would have reached the un­der­ground by now. One of the in­sane thoughts that had pro­pelled him after her had been fear that she would throw her­self on the tracks. Once, after a par­tic­u­lar­ly vi­cious row in their mid-twen­ties, she had climbed on to a rooftop, where she had swayed drunk­en­ly, vow­ing to jump. Per­haps he ought to be glad that the Tem­po­rary So­lu­tion had forced him to aban­don the chase. There could be no going back from the scene in the early hours of this morn­ing. This time, it had to be over.

Tug­ging his sod­den col­lar away from his neck, Strike pulled back the rusty bolt and head­ed out of the toi­let and back through the glass door.

A pneu­mat­ic drill had start­ed up in the street out­side. Robin was stand­ing in front of the desk with her back to the door; she whipped her hand back out of the front of her coat as he re-en­tered the room, and he knew that she had been mas­sag­ing her breast again.

‘Is – are you all right?’ Strike asked, care­ful­ly not look­ing at the site of the in­jury.

‘I’m fine. Lis­ten, if you don’t need me, I’ll go,’ said Robin with dig­ni­ty.

‘No – no, not at all,’ said a voice is­su­ing from Strike’s mouth, though he lis­tened to it with dis­gust. ‘A week – yeah, that’ll be fine. Er – the post’s here…⁠’ He scooped it from the door­mat as he spoke and scat­tered it on the bare desk in front of her, a pro­pi­tia­to­ry of­fer­ing. ‘Yeah, if you could open that, an­swer the phone, gen­er­al­ly sort of tidy up – com­put­er pass­word’s Hather­il­l23, I’ll write it down…⁠’ This he did, under her wary, doubt­ful gaze. ‘There you go – I’ll be in here.’

He strode into the inner of­fice, closed the door care­ful­ly be­hind him and then stood quite

still, gaz­ing at the kit­bag under the bare desk. It con­tained ev­ery­thing he owned, for he doubt­ed that he would ever see again the nine tenths of his pos­ses­sions he had left at Char­lotte’s. They would prob­a­bly be gone by lunchtime; set on fire, dumped in the street, slashed and crushed, doused in bleach. The drill ham­mered re­lent­less­ly in the street below.

And now the im­pos­si­bil­i­ty of pay­ing off his moun­tain­ous debts, the ap­palling con­se­quences that would at­tend the im­mi­nent fail­ure of this busi­ness, the loom­ing, un­known but in­evitably hor­ri­ble se­quel to his leav­ing Char­lotte; in Strike’s ex­haus­tion, the mis­ery of it all seemed to rear up in front of him in a kind of kalei­do­scope of hor­ror.

Hard­ly aware that he had moved, he found him­self back in the chair in which he had spent the lat­ter part of the night. From the other side of the in­sub­stan­tial par­ti­tion wall came muf­fled sounds of move­ment. The Tem­po­rary So­lu­tion was no doubt start­ing up the com­put­er, and would short­ly dis­cov­er that he had not re­ceived a sin­gle work-re­lat­ed email in three weeks. Then, at his own re­quest, she would start open­ing all his final de­mands. Ex­haust­ed, sore and hun­gry, Strike slid face down on to the desk again, muf­fling his eyes and ears in his en­cir­cling arms, so that he did not have to lis­ten while his hu­mil­i­a­tion was laid bare next door by a stranger.

The Book releases at a Crossword store near you on 5th August.

Pre book it on www.crossword.in at Flat 25% off

Price: Rs 599

Signing off for now

 

Until next time Geeks.

  

Happy Reading!

 

Crossword Bookstores

Award Winner From a Land Far Far Away…


Welcome Back Book Lovers..       

As you know we had The Economist Crossword Book Award held Last month in Mumbai where the winners in various categories of Fiction, Non Fiction, Translation & Popular were announced.

This week we got chatty with  our Fiction Winner, Anuradha Roy  who has beautifully penned the book ‘The Folded Earth’. This is her second book, her first book was ‘An Atlas Of Impossible Longing’ was published in 2008.

Anuradha resides from a small town Ranikhet in North India. She holds a degree from Cambridge and also has been a journalist. Away from the sight and sounds of city life she loves spending hours cooking, walking her Dog Biscoot across the forest and hilly areas of Ranikhet. With lower cell phone coverage’s, slower internet speeds and limited access to post, she enjoys her quiet, slow and semi urban/rural life.

Her first book has also been previously Shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award

Along with her husband, Anuradha runs Publishing Company Permanent Black which publishes books on South Asian history, politics and environment studies.

Small towns hold a myriad of untold stories and unexpected inspirations which at times go unheard and unseen by city folks.We have met a lot of authors who have migrated to a life in small towns and have shun their self away from fast lives and are completely immersed in writing and literature

Read more to know more about Ms Roy..

1.       This year the list of fiction nominees had previous winners, booker nominees. What were your sentiments when your name was announced as the winner of the Fiction Award?

I felt like the wildcard entrant at Wimbledon who came out of nowhere and won the championship.

2.       When and why did you decide to move into the small town of Ranikhet ?

My husband and I moved to Ranikhet in 2001, when we started our own publishing house. We both prefer living where there are forests and hills and we both like the slower rhythms of small town living.

3.       Does the place inspire your writing as well, as your previous books talk a story evolving in small town in North India?

Place is as crucial to the narrative as the characters in both my novels. In both books the places are physically small, but the worlds and histories they contain are anything but small.

4.       A Day in the life of Anuradha Roy?

It’s just the usual kind of day. Only instead of commuting to the office I walk in the forest; instead of buses and cars the roads have foxes and martens; instead of writing up presentations and strategies I write stories. And I design the books Permanent Black publishes.

5.       Favorite Authors

I have no favourite authors. I get obsessed with particular writers and try to read every scrap they’ve written over a few months, and then move on to someone else.

6.       Favorite Musicians

On some days it’s Dire Straits or K.D. Lang, on others it might be Ustad Abdul Karim Khan or Schubert.

7.       Your current read

I’m reading Penelope Fitzgerald, a British writer I had never read before. Her novel, The Bookshop, starts out tongue-in-cheek and light but ends like a Greek tragedy in which all the grandeur has been peeled away to create something very bleak, offering no comfort at all.

8.       Your most quirky habits.

It’s not a habit, it’s a disability of a kind – I can’t tell left from right so I get lost even in cities I’ve known for years and I can’t read maps.

9.       You have also been long listed for the DSC and Man Asia Booker prize. Your sentiments on the same

A lot of people draw up their reading lists from these longlists and shortlists so I’m happy when my book gets nominated for a prize. It means the book will get more widely read and known.

10.   Your views on how has Indian writing evolved in India. Do you feel that there is an outburst in Indian fiction writing?

I feel as if everyone I know is writing a novel. There are new authors and new books everyday. The biggest change has been the huge growth in commercial fiction so that now there are many kinds of novels being written in English in India– ranging from pulp to crime thrillers to literary fiction.

11.   And is English Literature dying in India and is it replaced by Mass Fiction writing?

No, I think they have completely different readerships.

12.   Anything in the pipeline for a 3rd book.                                  

Nothing yet worth talking about.

About ‘The Folded Earth’

In a remote town in the Himalaya, Maya tries to put behind her a time of great sorrow. By day she teaches in a school and at night she types up drafts of a magnum opus by her landlord, a relic of princely India known to all as Diwan Sahib. Her bond with the eccentric scholar and her friendship with a village girl, Charu, seem to offer her the chance of a new life in Ranikhet, where lush hills meet clear skies. As Maya finds out, no refuge is remote or small enough. The world she has come to love, where people are connected with nature, is endangered by the town’s new administration. The impending elections are hijacked by powerful outsiders who sow division and threaten the future of her school. Charu begins to behave strangely, and Maya soon understands that a new boy in the neighbourhood may be responsible for changes in her friend. When Diwan Sahib’s nephew arrives to set up his trekking company on their estate, she is drawn to him despite herself, but his disappearances into the mountains evoke painful echoes of the past. By turns poetic, elegiac and comic, The Folded Earth is a many-layered and powerful narrative about characters struggling with their pasts – a novel that poignantly reveals the strange shapes that India’s religious and social conflicts can assume even on distant mountain tops.

Publisher: Hachette India

Price: Rs 350           

 

Here is the Link of Anuradha Roy’s speech when she won the Fiction award.

Signing Off for Now..

Until Next Time Geeks.

Happy Reading!

Crossword Bookstores

Meet The Barry (Not Harry) Of Pagford, Muggles !!


Dear Book lovers today we bring you an exclusive review of the much awaited book of the year ‘The Casual Vacancy’.

I know we are quite late in our review but we weren’t privileged enough to go through the tedious process of going through Ms Rowling’s lawyers by signing NDA’s (joking).

We just simply thought of reading the book the day it arrived and giving you our honest review on it.

Hardbound and 503 pages long you better not be sleeping thorough Rowling writings who gives you a story to keep you awake after 5 long years.

All those expecting wands, wizards and magic you better not wander the boundaries of Pagford. Harry isn’t going to somehow come alive, but you will find a very dead Barry Fairbother who has affected the live of this little town. Also do keep the little ones away. We recommend all those who have grownup reading Ms Rowling’s books and continue to be amazed by her writing do stay glued.

The theme of the book lies on the characters trying to find hope in the most adverse of conditions ( a way to get out) and  a  hope to win.The book  covers hard hitting problems such as loneliness even in the best of situations, raging and rebellious teenagers, spiteful adults, political plots, abusive drugs &  yes it does cover promiscuity. Also the town seem to filled with a lot on antagonism and snobbery. It outlines each of Pagford’s families with their innumerable  problems and the love-hate emotions shared between the parents and the children.

The plot opens with the dear and respected Parish council member Barry Fairbrother passing away and it comes as a shock to the people of Pagford. Here we see various characters emerging and their stories being unfolded slowly. Also Rowling’s beautifully connects each character to Barry Fairbrother who shared a very special bond with him.Like the Harry Potter books which dealt with a lot of loss death, high emotions, sadness this book gives you a mixed set of emotions with each character  beginning to grow on you.

There is no good and evil war that needs to be fought but a ground of political animosity as all aspirants are eagerly waiting to fill The Casual Vacancy cause by Mr Fairbrother.But the town is shaken when it is haunted by the ghost of Barry Fairbrother exposing each aspirant most deepest secrets and exposing them openly in the public eye.

A slow-paced novel which makes you connect intensely with its characters and keeps you wanting for more till the very end.

Characters such as Krystal, Fatz, Terrie will give you a series of complex emotions of anger, disgust and sympathy for them at the same time. The book covers a lot of dark and edgy moments and the town does love a good gossip.

Not forgetting the Indian family outlined by Ms Rowling The Jawanda family which plays a very pivotal role in the book. The Characters of Parminder & Sukhvinder are written very exquisitely with powerful emotions.

You will be surprised with twists and turns in the book and will be sucked in very deeply by Rowling’s writing style.

A good read for all Rowling fans who are not expecting a Potter Magic out of it, but who believe that she has the ability of telling the simplest story tales in a magnum opus. As they say she is a storyteller like no other. (a true fact indeed)

Leaving you something special from the book which when you will read it may leave you on an emotional note….

Uhhuhuhhuh Rihanna

Good Girl Gone Bad

Take Three

Action

No clouds in my storms..

 

Publisher:Hachette India

Price: Rs 850

 

Signing off for now..

Until next time Geeks..

Happy Reading!

Crossword Bookstores.