Brtish-Indian novelist Rana Dasgupta, also the literary director of JCB Prize of Literature, was recently in Delhi to announce 2019 shortlist. An acclaimed writer, Dasgupta has authored two novels, Tokyo Cancelled (2005) and Solo (2009) and Capital (2014), a non-fiction narrative on Delhi. Gearing up for his new book After Nations to be published next year, he spoke with The Morning Standard. Excerpts:
What is the process to enter the books for JCB Prize of Literature?
The publishers can send four books. Two English language books and other two slots are reserved for books translated in English from vernacular languages. In a way we’re forcing publishers to publish more of translations. If they don’t have such books, they can’t enter other books in that category.
You have written about Delhi in your book, titled Capital: A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi (2014). What transition have you experienced five years thereafter?
From 2012-2014, the city experienced a very turbulent time. The Delhi rape case made news and there were huge demonstrations around corruption. A phase of anxiety, struggle and debates over many issues were present. Today, it is a more politicised city, ordinary people are preoccupied with issues such as cost of living and gender violence. I wrote a fairly dark book but the situation hasn’t gotten any better.
Could you give us an insight into After Nations?
The best way to understand the book is to go through the article I wrote for The Guardian in April 2018, titled The Demise of the Nation State. My book is about loss of power of national leaders and the shift it creates in internal political conditions in countries.
What do you do when not writing?
The fact that I work from home and never leave the office in that sense is a problem. I spend time with my daughter. I play the piano and There are days when I am simply incapacitated, tired or have no thoughts. It drives me crazy! On a really good day, I can start writing early in the morning till 9:00 pm.