My Partner-Novelist from Nigeria
Fiction can be a wholly life-transforming experience because it is all about life. A novel or story is the closest to anything that can be called ‘life’. For this reason, fiction ought to capture life as realistically or as fantastically as it is possible. Fantasy is another route to the real. The real world is perceived through the mind and the senses; the imagined is constructed through intuition and the imagination. Fiction, at any rate, to use the words of Matthew Arnold, must see life steadily and see it whole. The world is too vast for the vision of any novelist and can never be seen ‘whole’ or in its entirety. An author, who wishes to see a large part of it, must see it through their imagination. Living in a different country, leave alone a different continent, will change the entire flavour of life. Hence, what you get in a novel is indeed no more than what Henry James calls ‘a slice of life’. Life can be viewed in spatial as well as temporal perspectives. Just as people living in different places view life differently, similarly an adult’s experience of life is very different to a youth’s. Both look upon life differently.
My consciousness of the limitedness of a writer’s perception has brought me to an experiment in fiction. I am co-authoring my latest book of fiction with a novelist from Nigeria; one I have never met, except through the imagination. This novelist is just nineteen. So in this work of fiction, we are putting our own versions of space and time; the Indian with the Nigerian. No perception of the world can be complete, but we are trying to make it a little more holistic. We hope to transcend youth and age; nationality, race, and culture. This is going to be a very daring experiment in Fiction.
I am keeping the name of my Nigerian partner a closely guarded secret so that when our book arrives, the mystery of who it will be grows greater. Our work will be stitched together as by a tailor’s needle that does not discriminate while joining cloth materials; for it, silk is as good as the coarsest of cloth material. This work of fiction is likely to be closer to what people in the contemporary world call, ‘global’.
The Tailor’s Needle
I am touched by the response readers have been giving to my fiction so far. My three books: the novel, The Tailor’s Needle, and my story collections, Marriages are Made in India and Intriguing Women have been rising gradually but steadily in the eyes of people and succeeding commercially. People are getting to know about my writings and my style. With this newest fiction experiment, they would see how this new category of fiction will be so different to my earlier work. This new work will blend my fiction with the work of a very talented young man.