Team Kitaab is in conversation with Taran N. Khan, the author of Shadow City (Published by Penguin India, 2020) where we discuss Kabul, her love for the city and her fascination for it which led to this book.

Taran N. Khan is a journalist and non-fiction writer based in Mumbai. Her writing has appeared in GuernicaAl JazeeraBerfroisHimal SouthasianGulf News and Dagsavisen, as well as in leading publications in India like The CaravanOpenThe Hindu and Scroll.in. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Logan Non-Fiction Program, Jan Michalski Foundation and Pro Helvetia. From 2006 to 2013, Khan spent long periods living and working in Kabul. Shadow City is her first book.

Taran N. Khan’s Shadow City is a fascinating read on Kabul. Interestingly, the first thing, Khan, was told when she reached Kabul, was to never venture for a walk. And that is exactly what she did- explore the city through walks, which further led to this book.

From “I have a complicated relationship with walking…” to writing a book on exploring an entire city through a series of walks. Has writing this book redefined walks/walking for her, we wondered. To which Khan says, “The book was shaped in part by this complicated relationship, which is still evolving. During the recent lockdown in Mumbai, for instance, I was not able to walk as often as I used to. When I did go out, it felt like a different terrain. Emptied of its crowds, the bare bones of the metropolis emerged, and I could see features that had always existed, but had been invisible to me.”

Born in Gorakhpur in 1960, K.K. Srivastava did his Masters in Economics from Gorakhpur University in 1980 and joined Civil Services in 1983. Author of three volumes of poetry: Ineluctable Stillness (2005), An Armless Hand Writes (2008; 2012) and Shadows of the Real (2012), his poems have been translated into Hindi (Andhere Se Nikli Kavitayen—VANI PRAKASHAN ,2017) and his book Shadows of the Real into Russian by veteran Russian poet Adolf Shvedchikov. His fourth book Soliloquy of a Small Town Uncivil Servant, a literary non-fiction was published in March 2019 by Rupa Publications, New Delhi. Currently he is working as Additional Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General in the office of Comptroller & Auditor General of India. 

By Meghna Pant

Panchangam threw the coke can on the ground. There was a sound of crunch as the red can hit arid land. Its fizzy liquid trickled out. Sharda leaned forward and stuck her tongue out on it. Maybe she could get a drop? Quench her parched throat? But the brown bubbles had already sizzled away and she was left with her tongue on the ground, dusty and dry.

“If you sit, I’ll make you stand,” Panchangam said. “If you stand, I’ll make you walk. If you walk, I’ll make you run.”

He looked around at the gathering of villagers. They stared back at him blankly. The sun had burnt these villager’s faces to blend in with the land. Their eyes were buried under crow’s feet. Panchangam could see that their thoughts were dried out from feverishness.

These men and women could no longer understand the things that were spoken.

Men who have forgotten the language of the tongue, have to be shown its meaning. Panchangam hurled a potato in the air. All eyes moved with it.

“Who wants this?” he asked, looking around at the villagers. Sharda raised her hand before anyone else could.

Panchangam narrowed his eyes at her.

“You know what you have to do,” he said, in a sly slithering voice.

Indian author Anuradha Roy and British-Indian Sunjeev Sahota are among 13 international authors long-listed for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, the prestigious literary prize committee announced here today.

Roy has been picked for her third novel, ‘Sleeping on Jupiter’, and Sahota for ‘The Year of the Runaways’, the committee said.

“We had a great time choosing this list. Discussions weren’t always peaceful, but they were always very friendly,” said Michael Wood, chair of this year’s Man Booker judging panel.

“We were lucky in our companions and the submissions were extraordinary. The long-list could have been twice as long, but we’re more than happy with our final choice.