HYDERABAD : Hyderabadi author Kochery C Shibu weaves tales of murder, theft, betrayal and espionage in his latest book ‘Faith and the Beloved’ and presents a complex but interesting take on the socio-political-cultural fabric of different countries. Excerpts from the interview:
There are too many characters and entangled webs of LTTE and ISIS. Don’t you think it’s too much for the reader to handle?
‘Faith and the Beloved’ has been set on a vast canvas, both in terms of geography, time , events and people. The novel captures the gamut of operations of the LTTE which was spread well beyond the subcontinent to far corners of the world. The ISI and ISIS has also made a reputation for reaching far and wide in roping in people for masterminding their operations. As in all intelligence agencies operations there is always a web of deceit and plethora of characters who are used as cover and at times cannon fodder to the ends of the intelligence agencies, which may not always be noble. The novel has captured the gamut of operations of the LTTE and ISI and ISIS as they are known to operate, to bring out a true picture to the readers. The discerning readers would always be delighted to read through the maze.
What made you come up with the idea for this novel?
The idea of the novel has been churning in my mind for many decades. There was a reported incident in 80s wherein a Tamil family was burned alive in their car by a mob in Colombo. They had spared the children. The father came out from the burning car and grabbed his two children and chose to kill his children with him in the burning car, than leave them to the mercy of the mob. This incident has stayed with me since then, and one of the characters in the novel is inspired from this incident.
The LTTE and the civil war in Sri Lanka had affected the lives of many in the subcontinent for nearly three decades. By virtue of having been in the defence, we were also closely associated and aware of the military operations that went on as also the fierce nature of operations of the LTTE. The introduction of suicide terrorism as a weapon was taken by LTTE to unimaginable levels by motivating people to give up their life for a cause. The novel has been churning in my mind for many years, and it took two years of research and writing to bring it to life
There’s a detailed description of demonetisation and fake currency notes, including the need for right wood pulp. How did you go about the research?
I have travelled the length and breadth of the country immediately during and after the de monetisation. Many of the descriptions and observations are based on interaction with the people during that period. The fake currency notes sponsored by ISI is a reality. The research on the same has also been through interactions and discussions with many people who were involved in handling the same. I was working on a hydroelectric project in Sikkim for two years from 2015. It was during his period that I had extensive inter action with the Nepalese work force who worked on the project. The use of Nepal as a conduit by ISI for drugs trafficking and money laundering was common knowledge to them. In many ways, the deep penetration of ISI in to our monetary system had caught me also by surprise as I had researched for the novel.
Do you think that the narrative could have been a bit more experimental to give a spin to a very heavy topic around which the plots are woven?
I have stopped reading fiction since 2009 when I started writing my first book Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar. The effort was to develop a style of writing which is different, and not influenced by any other writing. I had developed a unique style of writing with a combination of classical style, technical fiction and thriller, together in one novel. In the second novel Faith and the Beloved, The narrative is a combination of the classical style of writing in many parts and fast paced thriller in other parts.
What’s the next book you are working on?
There are many stories churning in my mind. Nothing firmed up, but I will start my next novel by the end of the year.
The thought behind the novel
The Hyderabad-based author stopped reading fiction in 2009 when he started writing his first book, ‘Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar’. The effort was to develop a style of writing which is different and not influenced by any other writing. The idea of the novel has been churning in his mind for many decades, he says. The LTTE and the civil war in Sri Lanka had affected the lives of many in the subcontinent for nearly three decades. By virtue of having been in the defence, he was aware of the military ops that went on