2013 has not been a very good year for Indian fiction abroad. However, it can safely be said that Prajwal Parajuly’s The Gurkha’s Daughter: Stories was one Indian book that bucked the dismal trend. This beautiful collection of short stories created international literary splash even before it was released. Fantastic reviews and sales in Ireland, the UK, the UAE and South Africa soon followed. The book was a Number One bestseller in India from the day it was released. Also, Prajwal was the only Indian/Asian writer on the shortlist of this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize for Literature.
Half Nepalese, half Indian, Parajuly was raised in Sikkim. He joined Oxford in 2010. He worked as a Village Voice ad executive and was doing a masters in creative writing at Oxford when, at 26, he became the youngest writer to secure an international two-book deal from Quercus. The Gurkha’s Daughter was published in late 2012.
One year later, his second book, Land Where I Flee, a novel, will be released in India.
According to his publisher, Prajwal divides his time between New York and Oxford, England, but disappears to Gangtok, his hometown in the Indian Himalayas, at every opportunity. Kitaab caught him over email for a little chat on his writing journey so far.
Your debut collection of short stories, The Gurkha’s Daughter, was internationally acclaimed. Did you feel any pressure in writing your second book (Land Where I Flee) as expectations would be naturally high after your first book?
Thankfully, I had already completed the novel – or a draft of it – before The Gurkha’s Daughter was released. I am glad a big chunk of the work on Land Where I Flee was done prior to the publication of The Gurkha’s Daughter because there was entirely too much happening when The Gurkha’s Daughter came out. I agreed to almost all interview requests because I had the time. I was able to accept invitations to literature festivals because I had the time. I consented to readings because I had the time. I probably wouldn’t have committed to half the events I was invited to had Land Where I Flee not been as close to complete as it was. Do I feel any pressure? Not any more or less than when I did when The Gurkha’s Daughter came out. I understand there will be comparisons, but that’s okay.