In our times of overwriting and over-publishing, literary legends are difficult to come by. Yet, once in a blue moon, we do come across a rare story of literary struggles that surprises us. The story of Kochi, India-based novelist Anees Salim is one such story.
Anees is a college dropout turned ace advertising professional. He wrote four novels but none of them got accepted by mainstream publishers in India. “After being disappointed by the agents abroad, I also started to submit it to Indian publishers, but heard nothing from them,” he said in an interview. “Then I submitted my manuscript to Kanishka Gupta of Writer’s Side Literary Agency, and within 15 days my novel was sold in an auction. Ironically, among the bidders was a publisher on whose table the same manuscript had been languishing for last six months. ”
Once his first novel was sold, the rest also got picked up, all in the span of a single year. The Vicks Mango Tree and Tales From A Vending Machine have been published by Harper Collins; The Blind Lady’s Descendants by Amaryllis, and Vanity Bagh by Picador.
His debut novel, The Vicks Mango Tree, is set in the Emergency period. The Blind Lady’s Descendants tells the story of a Muslim family living in a little known town. Tales from A Vending Machine is the story of Hasina Mansoor, a young Muslim girl employed at an airport vending machine, and her string of adventures. Vanity Bagh sketches the picture of a tiny Pakistan inside a big Indian city, against the backdrop of a serial bomb blast.
He talks about his trials and tribulations as a writer in this interview with Kitaab’s editor Zafar Anjum: