Suketu Mehta was the first famous Indian writerI saw after moving to New York. I was at a monthly South Asian party called Basement Bhangra when I noticed a man dressed older than everyone else walk in. “Aren’t you reading that guy’s book,” my friend asked. I squinted and indeed, it was Mehta, yet to achieve the fame that would accrue as his book went out into the world. In the hope that if I congratulated him I would bank some karma with the cosmos that would subsequently be returned when my novel was published, I went up to him. After thanking me, he took me around the corner into the VIP area and said: “Meet Salman Rushdie.”
Fiction, if it is to be taken seriously, must avoid cliché, but life, needing no validation from critics or readers, often takes clichéd turns, and so it was that in the summer of 2004 I arrived in New York, neither the first nor the last writer to disembark in that city with the completed manuscript of a novel and the notion that simply moving to the centre of the publishing world would somehow transmute me into that which I wanted more than anything to be: a published novelist.