Tag Archives: Anees Salim

Celebrating 15 Years of Kitaab: A message from Kitaab’s Founding Editor, Zafar Anjum

The year 2020 is here and if you are reading this message, we thank you for being with us and wish you a very Happy New Year!

This year has a special significance for Kitaab: we celebrate our 15th anniversary. That’s a relatively long time in the life of a webzine in this day and age of short attention spans, isn’t it?

Well, we are not patting ourselves on the back but please allow us to take us down the memory lane for a while to appreciate why we feel how we feel at this juncture of time.

3fb0a5de-0888-48b0-a99f-0fb482e9f57f Read more

Writing Matters: In conversation with Anees Salim

By Archana Pai Kulkarni

Anees Salim

Acclaimed as one of our most gifted raconteurs, Anees Salim won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2018 for his novel, The Blind Lady’s Descendants. The book also won the Raymond Crossword Book Award for Best Fiction in 2015.

His other books include The Vicks Mango Tree (2012), Tales from a Vending Machine (2013), Vanity Bagh (Winner of the Hindu Prize for Best Fiction, 2013), and The Small-town Sea that won the Atta Galatta Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize for Best Fiction, 2017, and was shortlisted for The Hindu Prize as well as the Tata Literature Live! Award, the same year.

Salim is Creative Director, FCB Ulka, Kochi, and an avid traveller.

: Anees, welcome to Kitaab! Congratulations on winning the Sahitya Akademi Award for The Blind Lady’s Descendants.

You are known to be a literary hermit and have mentioned that these recognitions have made you unnecessarily wary and self-conscious. Do you worry that the baggage of expectations that comes with awards, coupled with a surge in readers’ interest in you, may be too invasive and affect your writing? What makes you shy away from social interaction and literary platforms, when being out there could mean better sales and a larger readership?

Anees: Thank you. Yes, recognitions have put extra load on me and I have started discarding more story ideas than I used to do in the past. I don’t know if readers’ interest in my books has affected my writing because I haven’t written a book since The Small-town Sea was published.

Coming to my lack of social interaction, it has always been like this. All my books were released without official launches or book tours. And most of them have done reasonably well. But you are right, a few public appearances could have helped the books do better. The truth is I find it extremely hard to change myself.

Archana: The characters in your novels are consummate storytellers, be it the unnamed protagonist of The Small-town Sea or Amar Hamsa in The Blind Lady’s Descendants. Stories are also told from the perspective of a fish or a bird, narrators buoyed up by the protagonist who presumes what they are witnessing. ‘What did they see?’ is a recurring adjunct, a narrative device you use to offer an unusual overview, which cannot be relied upon entirely. Could you elaborate upon the choice and use of this tool?

Anees: Well, I believe children are the most imaginative and fearless storytellers. They have a unique way of looking at mundane things and their points of view can sometimes make you feel liberated. As a child, I used to imagine how birds would see my home, how my school would appear to earthworms, how chickens would heave a sigh of relief when we demanded lamb biriyani.  Since The Small-town Sea is narrated by a thirteen-year-old – my youngest ever protagonist – I thought of using my favourite childhood pastime as a tool.

Archana: Death arrives early in some of your books. Your characters seem accepting of it, including their own. While there is a sense of melancholy and foreboding that shadows their rumination upon death, the characters succumb to it willingly, as if this cessation of their lives, however premature, is elemental and not so unpleasant, an inspiration even. They seem to meet death halfway, walk towards it, so to say. You also juxtapose a death with a birth. Amar in The Bind Lady’s Descendants is born on the very day that Javi, his doppelganger, dies. Vappa in The Small-town Sea dies three days after the unnamed protagonist’s thirteenth birthday. Why this preoccupation with death, and the mention of birth and death days alongside? What does the subject do for you as a writer?

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Book review: Where death plays like a broken record

By Meghna Pant

small townAnees Salim’s new novel The Small-Town Sea is the story of an unnamed boy in an unnamed town who grapples with the consequences of his unnamed father’s death.

The novel begins ominously enough. On the first page itself the 13-year-old narrator loses his father, referred to only as Vappa. The rest of the first half is narrated as a flashback where the cancer-stricken Vappa, nostalgic in the face of imminent death, decides to leave the unnamed city where he resides with his family and return to the unnamed town where he grew up.

Vappa longs to get a front-page obituary that transcends the boundaries of his small town and artistic insecurities. You see, he is an almost famous author who has won an unnamed, but almost famous, award for which he is convinced he must be acknowledged in life as in death. Hedonism of the writer? Understandable. Halfway through the book he finally gets the obituary he wants only to have it turned into a paper cone for peanuts later that day. Such is our ephemeral life. Read more

Source: The Asian Age

The ‘middlemen’ who are changing India’s publishing scene


India’s publishing industry is as ruthless as it is dotted with glitz. With debutant authors often taking years to find a publisher, the journey of the manuscript to a full-fledged book is not a cakewalk. Changing this trend is the rise of literary agents in India.

Commonly known as “middlemen” in the publishing industry, the literary agents offer their expertise to authors to reduce their struggle in getting books published. Take 34-year-old Kanishka Gupta, one of the youngest literary agents in the South Asian belt whose big break came in 2013 with Anees Salim’s book “Vanity Bag”.

Gupta’s firm, Writer’s Side, was set up in 2010 and he claimed that his agency has sold more than 500 books to publishers in the last six years. Read more

Source: The Indian Express

India: Crossword Prize and most rejections: Anees Salim on his novel ‘The Blind Lady’s Descendants’

AneesSalimI started writing this book shortly after my first manuscript fetched me a few rejection mails. I had just landed my first job and I was living hand to mouth on the top floor of a rundown hotel. The floor had only three rooms besides mine but they were always uninhabited, so I practically had the whole floor to myself, complete with the luxury of a spacious terrace, a pretty view of the city and pin drop silence throughout the night. Read more

Anees Salim: Recluse By Choice, Writer At Heart

No writer in recent years has stormed into the Indo-Anglian literary scene the way Anees Salim has. The Kerala-based author won the Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2013 for his brilliant and ‘dark comic tale’ Vanity Bagh. Sabin Iqbal profiles the adman-turned-author whose humour cuts through the skin and leaves some pain in the heart: Tehelka

AneesSalim“Naipaul never went to any writing workshop,” says Anees. “In fact, no good writers that we now admire have gone to any creative workshop nor are they products of any systematic training.”

The good writers who have attended writing workshops would have anyhow become good writers. “One has to have some kind of pain or unhappiness to go about writing,” says Anees. Once, his father had given him a photocopy of a 400-page foreign book on how to write a novel. “It (the book) was not available in India then, but I couldn’t go beyond 50 pages of how to structure your writing. Textbooks would have killed my writing,” he says.

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Anees Salim: One of India’s famous dropouts

AneesSalimHe is sure about one thing: if he had not dropped out of college, he would have become “a disaster”. He, however, had a hard time convincing his parents.

“They were shattered, especially my mother,” says writer Anees Salim, who hails from Varkala, a coastal town in Thiruvananthapuram. “My father, who worked in the Middle East, sent doleful letters to my mother and eldest sister. I stole and read them. They did not touch me then, but now they do.” Read more

Anees Salim bags The Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2013

Novelist Jim Crace made the announcement at the valedictory session of The Hindu Lit for Life: The Hindu

AneesSalimKerala-based writer Anees Salim won The Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2013 for his second novel, Vanity Bagh for consistent writing and humour and imagination. (Read our interview with Salim here)

“The book is a very comic account of a young man from a minority group from a place called Vanity Bagh, also called Little Pakistan. It is about physical cities, both real and imagined,” said writer Timeri N. Murari, one of the jury members. Read more

Anees Salim: ‘The Bookmark Could Have Saved My Father’s Life…’

Indian novelist Anees Salim pays a tribute to his book-loving father in Tehelka

AneesSalimI inherited my love of  from my father, who, I believed, loved  more deeply than anything else. He was hardly seen without a book. Or, as his friend would put it, he was never spotted with a bad book. I shared a rather difficult relationship with this bibliophile throughout my childhood.

Growing up, my father was mostly out of sight, working in West Asia from where he came home every year with almost the same kind of gifts. My most enduring memory of him is emerging from the arrival terminal of Trivandrum airport, wielding a book — usually a hardback — which he would unfailingly finish before his one-month vacation was over.

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