HYDERABAD: As an Indian writer settled in the United States, she pens historical fiction centred in India but is very different from expat writers who dwell more on alienation and displacement.
Indu Sundaresan, the author of the Taj trilogy — The Twentieth Wife, A feast of roses and the much awaited, The shadow princess — has enjoyed a global readership.
Wouldn't it be easy for someone like her to fall into the trap of diaspora literature? “I have lived the life.
I do not find it interesting to write about the Indian diaspora,” confesses the writer.
Drawing a global audience for the chronicles of the wives of the Mughal empire, first Noor Jehan and now Jahan Ara has been the mainstay of Indu's writings.
“I was looking at a global audience from the beginning as I found a publisher in the US, though it took me five years.
It is the strong central female characters which appeal even to a 20-year-old in Istanbul.
It does not matter then - who was Noor Jehan? It is the power these women wielded in those times, which speaks to the readers,” observes Indu.
Mughal empire has inspired a large body of historical fiction, notably, writers like William Darlymple.
“The lives of Mughals were colorful and there are all the elements of a story in it,” says Indu who half-jokingly admits that the venue for the Hyderabad Literary festival, Taramati Baradari, has a rich pool of stories in it.
From a graduate in economics to a writer in historical fiction was a chance journey for her.
“I was a poor student of History in school.
It was partly because it was taught as a series of dates and there was no sense of people behind it.
My tryst started with me stumbling upon a book on 'Women in Harems.' Since I did not find a book which could tell me more about the women's perspective, I started researching for the book and this is how The Twentieth Wife came about,” explains Indu.
Currently she is working on a book on the journey of the famed Koh-i-Noor diamond.
“The book, The Curse of the Koh-i-Noor captures the time between when Maharaja Duleep Singh of Punjab sees the gem in the British court to back in his father's time when the diamond adorned the Peacock throne of Ranjeet Singh,” says the writer before taking her leave.
The writer was at her wittiest best at the festival and the delegates cheristed the moments they shared with her.