“Did you get a chance to read the book?” asks author-diplomat T.S. Tirumurti, whose second novel Chennaivaasi is now on bookstore displays. Sitting at a window-side table at a café in the city, I tell him that a stranger aged 30-odd, spotting me reading it at the airport had said he bought a copy intrigued by the prologue, and that the novel lived up to that promise. He reacts with diplomatic restraint, but is clearly pleased. “Is that so? What did he like in the story?” he asks softly. A perfect opening for the conversation!
We begin with the setting (1990s) and style. “Some of my heroes are Ernest Hemingway and R.K. Narayan,” he says. They preferred short sentences. The short sentence at the end of chapters maximises the impact. It captures the imagery more than reinforce the image set earlier.
The story happens in a Tamil Brahmin (Tambram) milieu, again. The first book, Clive Avenue (2002) was autobiographical, he says. After the first book, the second was a given, he says. Chennaivasi is more of “what I’ve seen”.