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Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Irwin Allan Sealy (without capital letters)

By Aminah Sheikh

Each of the authors interviewed for Kitaab’s Lounge Chair have been unique, and this email interview with Irwin Allan Sealy was no different. Along with his responses he sent us a note which we’ve decided to retain as part of his interview. You’ll see why…

His note:

i sense a distinct persona here but a reluctance to lower the mask. i’m not sure you can use “let’s” and at the same time absent yourself but i’ll take your questions seriously; there’ll be some loss if you automatically adapt my answers to your house style. for example i prefer not to use the capital i for me, or for that matter capitals of any kind, but fight a losing battle with autocorrect. it’s your call!

Yours ias

(Editor’s note: We decided to publish the interview without editing the manuscript for capital letters).    

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

i write to sort out impressions accumulated in my body and ideas formed in my head over a lifetime; the two camps are perpetually at war. i write to ward off that madness, but equally for the pleasure of making something out of nothing. i write for the delight certain patterns yield. i write to make sense of an apparently barbarous world. i write to explain the persistence of goodness. i write for a living. i write to escape my fate, to step out of myself. i write to rescue the past, to examine alternative worlds. i write to explore an assigned topic (like this), to assess my motives, to plan a course of action, to understand last night’s dream (there was a marsh), to scrutinize loose notions, to reach out to persons far away in space and time, and because i detest the telephone. Continue reading


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New Release: Zelaldinus: A Masque by Irwin Allan Sealy

9789386021441Published by Aleph Book Company, Zelaldinus by Irwin Allan Sealy mounts such a pageant, glittering and fantastical, where past and present, nobles and commoners, history and fiction rub shoulders. Its variety of verse and prose forms evoke the carnival spirit of a masque.

On a camel’s back hill beyond Agra stands a redstone citadel altogether different from the white marble Taj Mahal. Fatehpur Sikri is the capital Akbar built to honour the saint who foretold the birth of his first son. In the inner court of the king’s palace is      a broad stone terrace with a chequered pattern that resembles a game board. Here, accounts say, Akbar played a kind of chess using human pieces from his harem of three hundred. Costumed in various guises, his women would have presented lively masques upon this stage.

Underlying the depiction of a rich and varied court life at Sikri are reflections on kingship, a meditation on fathers and sons, and a plot within a plot that tells a crackling story of love across the Pakistan border—while through it all strides the nimble ghost of Akbar himself. Jalaluddin (Zelaldinus) Akbar.

About the Author:

Irwin Allan Sealy was born in Allahabad and educated in Lucknow and Delhi. He is the author of The Trotter-Nama, The Everest Hotel, The Brainfever Bird and other novels, and the travelogues From Yukon to Yucatan and The China Sketchbook. A memoir, The Small Wild Goose Pagoda, is set in Dehra Dun where he lives.