Tag Archives: Krishna Udayasankar

Beast: An urban fantasy reminiscent of a folklore

Namrata looks at Krishna Udayasankar’s new novel set in Mumbai in the backdrop of the dark underbelly of the city amidst the world of Saimhas (werelions)

Publisher: Penguin

Released in : March 2019

An urban fantasy set in the mega city of Mumbai, Beast by Krishna Udayasankar reminds you of the folklore of Lord Narsimha and Prahalad. The description of one being ‘Neither a man, nor an animal’, is the common thread between the two.

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I write about action, adventure. Don’t tell me I write like a man: Krishna Udayasankar

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I’m told every now and then, that I write action and adventure “like a man”.

It is mostly meant as a compliment by readers who’ve thoroughly enjoyed my books and want to let me know it, and over time, I’ve learnt to take it as such.

Still, there is that moment’s hesitation as I vacillate between saying a “thank-you” that I don’t really feel, or meeting the statement head-on to confront a gender inequality issue that isn’t really the issue at hand.

By the time I’ve decided which side of the standing-up-to-misogynist language vs taking-things-too-seriously fence I want to be on, it is too late for witty repartees and so, after an awkward pause and an embarrassed smile, I turn the conversation to the weather, or (hopefully) the starters that have just been served.

All is then well with the universe, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I hear the same thing again.

If you’re wondering what the big fuss is, I’m going to assume that you haven’t yet had the chance to read one of my books. Which means, you need to take it on faith and faith alone when I say that I’m actually quite good at carnage – writing carnage, that is.

I’m also more than decent at adventure. And I am fairly good at drawing up both gory physical torture sequences and hallucination horror.

My first three books – The Aryavarta Chronicles series – had grand battle-scenes with hundreds of gruesome cadavers. My latest book, Immortal, has some pretty chase sequences, gunfights, explosions, not to mention multiple close combat scenes – all of which I thoroughly enjoyed writing. Read more

Photo Feature: Kitaab launches T A Morton’s ‘Halfway Up A Hill–Stories from Hong Kong’ in Singapore

Singapore publisher Kitaab launched Denmark-based writer T A Morton’s debut collection of short stories, Halfway Up A Hill–Stories from Hong Kong, on Friday (19 February) at Books Actually in Singapore. Here are some images from the launch.

Copies of the book are available now at Books Actually, Singapore and will soon be available in all leading bookstores in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

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In Halfway up a Hill, an array of characters from the eight distinctive short stories converge and interact in and around a busy Soho coffee shop in Hong Kong. In the air-conditioned confines of an unassuming coffee shop halfway up (or down, depending on your point of view) a steep Hong Kong hillside, a multitude of lives entwine, unravel and spin off, together and apart, all watched over and influenced by forces the people involved only vaguely apprehend—as well as observed by the benign spirits that occupy the shop bathroom. The collection of intriguing stories told in Halfway up a Hill both stimulate and beguile, like a sip of hot coffee on a cold day.

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T.A. Morton (holding her author’s copy at the launch) has worked as journalist and editor for Longman Pearson in Hong Kong. Returning to Europe she now resides in Copenhagen where she works as a freelance editor. She lives with her husband and daughter and is the proud godmother to a commercial ship, Tracey Kosan. Currently she is working towards her masters in Literature, and also on her third novel.

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Something for the tastebuds at the launch @ Books Actually

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T A Morton in conversation with her readers

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Novelist and poet Krishna Udayasankar was in conversation with the author, T. A. Morton.

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And the book is launched: (from left) T A Morton, author of Halfway Up a Hill; Zafar Anjum, publisher, Kitaab; Krishna Udayasankar, novelist and poet; and Helen Mangham, agent, Books@Jacaranda

India: What keeps the mythology genre ticking?

For a decade, Indian authors have been capturing readers’ mind space with reinterpretations of mythology. What keeps this genre ticking?: The Hindu

Krishna UdayasankarThere was a time when bookstores were filled with campus love stories set in IIT and IIM campuses. Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT (2004) spawned many campus capers until readers were fatigued by the genre and the stories had little recall value. Read more

Krishna Udayasankar: I don’t think of myself as either poet or novelist, but simply, a story-teller

Krishna UdayasankarKrishna Udayasankar is a graduate of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, and holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the Nanyang Business School, Singapore, where she presently works as a lecturer.

Govinda, Krishna’s bestselling debut novel and the first in the Aryavarta Chronicles series of mytho-historical novels, received critical acclaim. She is also the author of Objects of Affection, a full-length collection of poetry (Math Paper Press, 2013) and is an editor of Body Boundaries: The Etiquette Anthology of Women’s Writing (The Literary Centre, Forthcoming, 2013).

Kitaab presents an interview with this talented novelist and poet on the art of writing fiction and poetry.

You made your debut with a novel last year. What started you writing poetry?

I always wanted to be a poet. But, I was (and still am, in many ways) a really, really bad poet. And so, in order to spare would-be readers, I decided to write prose instead. Of course, the tale gets a little more exciting, because the poem I abandoned for prose was what you see today as my novel series: The Aryavarta Chronicles – At first it was a satirical poem, but when I reached a stage where I needed to explore the larger socio-political macrocosm of the story, I realized I needed a different device. Read more

Four new books launched at SWF 2012

SWF 2012 launch

Four new books were launched at the Singapore Writers Festival 2012 (SWF 2012) yesterday evening at the ilovebooks.com pavilion at the festival venue at SMU campus.

The books launched were: The Resurgence of Satyam: The Global IT Giant (Random House, India) and The Singapore Decalogue (Red Wheelbarrow Books, Singapore) by Indian journalist  Zafar Anjum (also editor of this website), Govinda, Part 1 of the Aryavrata Chronicles (Hechette India) by Krishna Udayasankar and Miss Moorthy Investigates (Westland, India) by Ovidia Yu.

The four books are by authors represented by international literary agency, Jacaranda, who were managing the event. Jacaranda literary agency started in India and is one of the oldest agencies in Asia, with offices in Bangalore, New York, Nairobi and Singapore.

The book launch was kicked off by Jayapriya Vasudevan, who heads the literary agency along with Priya Doraiswamy in the US and Helen Mangham in Singapore. The books were launched by Deepika Shetty, a well-known journalist and book lover.

In her inaugural remarks, Shetty said that she was proud of Anjum who she had met in 2005 at Singapore Literary Festival which used to be a small event in those days. She said that between then and now, Anjum was able to write and publish two books that she was unveiling that evening.

In his introduction, Anjum said that this was his first foray into non-fiction (The Resurgence of Satyam: The Global IT Giant). He had written a novel 12 years ago and had since been working on a novel, which is still a work in progress. In the interim, he wrote the Satyam book and completed the short stories under a project grant by the National Arts Council Singapore. His collection of short stories,  The Singapore Decalogue, revolves around a central character who is a freshly arrived ‘foreign talent’ from India.

Describing his journey of becoming a writer, Anjum explained how the Satyam book came out of his passion for journalism. The book was not commissioned by Satyam or any other entity but was born out of his desire to tell the amazing story of Satyam’s return from hell. “I was looking for the human stories in the backdrop of the Satyam scandal,” he said. “It was a positive and inspiring story to come from India, so it needed a telling.”

Vasudevan said that Udayasankar’s Govinda was doing very well in the market and had already become a bestseller in India. The book was also on a literary prize longlist in India.

Udayasankar also said that she was amazed to see people wanting to read the book in far-off countries like Germany and Sweden because the Internet had made it possible for books and book-related information travel far and wide in a boundary less virtual world.

Ovidia, a very well-known playwright, said that she had written her novel, Miss Moorthy Investigates, nearly three decades ago. Because of Jayapriya’s interest, the novel has now been revived and reissued, she said. “I am so glad it has happened,” she said. “At least now, I can move on to the next few books in the series.”

Ovidia also revealed that Miss Moorthy is based on a real-life character and she did not mind being put in fiction. “As we are launching the book here, Miss Moorthy is uncorking a champagne bottle in England to celebrate the launch,” she said.

The three authors moved to the bookstore in a nearby tent to sign their books after the launch.

Govinda: Myth retold or revisionist fiction?

By Zafar Anjum

The Aryavarta Chronicles, Book 1: GOVINDA, by Krishna Udayasankar, New Delhi: Hachette India, 472 pp, paperback. $25.

I remember reading an interview of the late Chilean author Roberto Bolano in which he said that in the third world countries, blooming of literary fiction precedes mushrooming of genre fiction. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing in itself, I won’t go into that (perhaps one needs both?) but this is how the literary scene has evolved in India.

First, there were the R K Narayans and the Raja Raos, then there were the Naipauls, the Anita Desais, and Kamala Markandayas and then came the generation of new diaspora writers such as Rushdie, Vikram Seth and others. At home, the Stephanians ruled the roost for a time but with the liberalization of the Indian economy and the rise of a new Indian middle class, slowly and steadily Indian writing in English, largely an upper middle class phenomenon, went down a slippery slope.

Then came along Chetan Bhagat, the writer-prophet of this newly minted middle class. His novels found a bridge with India’s youth. Since his arrival on the scene, there has been a deluge of fiction from all kinds of hacks. Suddenly, Indian writing in English has become accessible to anyone who knows how to read a sentence in English. Today, home-grown Indian writers are writing sci-fi novels and thrillers and there are writers who specialize in chick lit and teen lit (I’m sure Clitlit will follow soon after the success of Fifty Shades of Grey). The number of books sold by these authors has jumped through the roof and publishers, both desi and foreign, are only too happy to encash this trend.

One of the genres that have bloomed during this revolution is that of mythology or the retelling of stories from India’s past. Today, there are many leading names in this genre. Amish Tripathi’s The Immortals of Meluha has become such a runaway hit that a famous Bollywood film director has bought its film rights. I am tempted to place Krishna Udayasankar’s debut novel’s Govinda (The Aryavarta Chronicles, #1) in this category but perhaps I should not.

This is not a junk-food-novel. A few pages into the novel and you know you are reading a well-researched work, a work of mytho-history.

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The Aryavarta Chronicles: Reconciling legend with logic

Krishna Udayasankar is a Singapore-based Indian writer and Govinda, Book 1 of the Aryavarta Chronicles (a trilogy) is her first published novel. According to her blog, The Aryavarta Chronicles are a series of fast-paced novels; tales of adventure, conspiracy and politics, that delve beyond familiar Epic India lore.

Born in Bangalore, India, and educated in India and Singapore, Krishna currently teaches strategic management at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

In this interview with Kitaab, she talks about her novel, her writing process and what writing means to her.

‘Govinda’ is your first novel and part of a trilogy. Did you have to struggle as a first time writer?

Actually, the Aryavarta Chronicles is a series that extends beyond three books. Each novel, though set in the empire of Aryavarta, has its own story arc and plotlines. The process had its own challenges, though it was made easy, even enjoyable, because I have loved what I was doing!

In my not-very-humble opinion, I think the biggest struggle a first-time writer faces is to reach a point of no-return, a point where you are committed to writing, come what may. Not that the struggles end after that, but then they are not very different from what every other writer faces, first-timer or otherwise. At the end of the day, the stories we tell are bigger than us and faith in those tales is never faith misplaced.

At a more pragmatic level, there is a whole world of events that have to take place between writing a book and getting it published. However, I’ve been extremely fortunate, having had a whole host of people from wonderful agents to friends, mentors, my publishers and above all, my family, to support me. So it felt a whole lot easier than it probably was.

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An epic for Generation Y

I don’t write for myself, I write for the story. I just want to deliver justice to the plot and the characters. It is to them that I owe my ultimate accountability. I believe the story is much bigger than any individual,” says Krishna Udayasankar, who was in the capital recently to launch her first book of the series of The Aryavarta Chronicles — Govinda.
A professor by pursuit, Ms Udayasankar is a graduate from the National Law School, Bengaluru, and a Ph.D holder in strategic management from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she is currently employed.
Ask her from where her love for history and mythology generates, and she says, “Ever since childhood, I’ve been an avid lover of history, because I think that is the root from which we have inherited the traditionally and culturally-rich society of ours. It gives meaning to who we are.”
Needless to say, when she decided to pen her first novel, she took the long convoluted route of churning out a novel leaning heavily on the history.
“My book is not a reinterpretation of The Mahabharata. I have just tried to reconstruct it in the light of the present day to build the world of today with all its political, social and economic complexities.” And in so doing, she says, her greatest ideas have emerged during discussions in class. “Not many students know that I’m writing a book, but once it releases in Singapore I hope it’ll add to my ‘coolness’ factor,” she jokes.

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