WE OF THE FORSAKEN WORLD: AUTHOR Q&A with Kiran Bhat #blogtour


Today's guest is literary fiction author Kiran Bhat. His book is we of the forsaken world (yeah all lower case) and he is here today to talk about his new book and what surprised him about the whole process of getting published. 


 

Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

we, of the forsaken world... came to me in 2011, when I was on a bus between Dubrovnik and Zagreb. A tall, brunette woman with a lingering stare sat down next to me on one of the stops. We began to talk about a host of things I can’t remember now, but the one thing that she told me which did remain in my head was the following: Croatia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Something about that sentence inspired my imagination. After we reached the bus station, I had to sit on one of the metal benches for a few hours and write. I was starting to imagine different countries, completely imagined in my head. One was a half-rich half poor megalopolis, the sort found in most third-world countries. Then, there was a town that wasn’t so different looking from my grandmother’s place, the southern Indian city of Mysore. There was a tribe in the middle of nowhere, not to mention a town of great touristic importance, destroyed by an industrial spill. I also imagined hundreds of voices. Though, over the course of time, those two hundred-so voices became around sixteen; the most distinct and boisterous of the lot.


Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I had finished the book in 2016. One of my friends, who was an editor at a small press in New York, gave me a list of agents to contact. Most of them responded stealthily and quickly, but after some months, they did not find my book – experimental, ambitious, overtly literary – to be a quick fit for the market. They had to turn it down. After about a year of waiting for these agents to respond, I started submitting to small presses. It was in 2019 that I got a response from an editor at Iguana Books. They were interested in publishing the book. I told them that I was still waiting for some other publishers to respond, so I asked them to wait for some weeks so that I could get some responses. Within two weeks, this same editor emailed me, asking me to follow up. He really liked this book and wanted to publish it.


Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Before my work with Iguana Books, I hadn’t had a publisher respond to me so positively. Admittedly, Iguana Books is a hybrid press. This means that they vet every book project that they take on, but they ask the author to take on the financial burdens of publication. This still did not mean that they had to care so much about my writing. They did a lot of work, from the editorial stages, to the design of the cover, and the maps that I asked to have tailored onto the book itself, to make sure that the book was aesthetically enriched. They spent a lot of time with me talking on the phone, making sure all of my needs were met, from last-minute changes to a sentence or two, to having my books flown to Hong Kong or Delhi for the sake of book festivals. I do not think having been published by a hybrid press has downgraded the quality of my work in any way; if anything, I am glad to have had people who believe as fondly in my vision as I do. It makes me look forward to later publications, as well as the future of my career.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

Of course, a cover is important, and it is something I learnt a lot about through the publication of my book. A cover has to be enticing, appealing, and yet subtle. It should not be too overt in the message of your writing and yet it should let the reader know enough to want to read your book. My publisher and I worked diligently in trying to create a cover that fit all of these criteria, and I think we succeeded.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was quite difficult to write a book like this. I wanted to write a book which could replicate the globalising forces of digitalisation in a literary form. To do this, I wanted to tell the story of a vast global multitude, separated by nationality, age, gender, sexuality, culture, and way of thinking, and merge their narratives in such a way that a novelistic cohesion could be constructed, while creating the dispersion of having so many voices – completely different, in all senses of the word – reach the apex of their individuality.

As for how I did it, well, that will be for the reader and the critic to judge. I will say that I wrote the best draft of this book in Malindi, Kenya, where each and every one of the characters gained their voice, and strongly so. I also struggled for some time to figure out how to make the structure work. Originally, I had the voices just run into each other, with no break or pause. This made it hard for a lot of readers to follow when one voice was new and another was the old one, as outside of the individual linguistic imprint of each voice, there was no visual clue to signify a transition. Eventually, I figured out that I could use short poetic interludes, with one side of the page ending the story of one character, and another side of the page beginning another, with both sides named with the two converging characters. This created beautiful images out of the endings and beginnings of each story and gave enough of a visual clue to the reader that something else was starting. I am sure that there might have been an even better way to frame the book, but for the amount of skill I have at this time, I am pleased to say that this structure created the effect I wanted while still giving something more concrete for the reader to hang on to.

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I am currently working on a giant novel that will take place in 240 nations. It is going to be the first ever novel to take place in every single country in the world. I plan to release it digitally, as well as in serial form. I would like to start publishing it in 2021. I also speak 12 languages, and use a lot of them to write in. I have currently published poetry and prose in the languages of Kannada, Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin. Those are all out already.

What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I wrote this book mainly in three different countries, from Peru, Kenya, and Indonesia, and all three nations are present in the book in some way.

Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

I want to use fiction as a means to make people think globally. When I mean globally, I don’t mean that in a wish-washy way. I really want people to live in the borderless, globalized imaginary that I inhabit, and use fiction to promote others to think from that perspective.
  
Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks for having me!


 

Meet the Author


Kiran Bhat was born in Jonesboro, Georgia to parents from villages in Dakshina Kannada, India. An avid world traveler, polyglot, and digital nomad, he has currently traveled to more than 130 countries, lived in 18 different places, and speaks 12 languages. He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Website  → http://iguanabooks.ca/


Inside the Book

 
The Internet has connected – and continues to connect – billions of people around the world, sometimes in surprising ways. In his sprawling new novel, we of the forsaken world, author Kiran Bhat has turned the fact of that once-unimaginable connectivity into a metaphor for life itself.
In, we of the forsaken world, Bhat follows the fortunes of 16 people who live in four distinct places on the planet. The gripping stories include those of a man’s journey to the birthplace of his mother, a tourist town destroyed by an industrial spill; a chief’s second son born in a nameless remote tribe, creating a scramble for succession as their jungles are destroyed by loggers; a homeless, one-armed woman living in a sprawling metropolis who sets out to take revenge on the men who trafficked her; and a milkmaid in a small village of shanty shacks connected only by a mud and concrete road who watches the girls she calls friends destroy her reputation.

Like modern communication networks, the stories in , we of the forsaken world connect along subtle lines, dispersing at the moments where another story is about to take place. Each story is a parable unto itself, but the tales also expand to engulf the lives of everyone who lives on planet Earth, at every second, everywhere.

As Bhat notes, his characters “largely live their own lives, deal with their own problems, and exist independently of the fact that they inhabit the same space. This becomes a parable of globalization, but in a literary text.”

Bhat continues:  “I wanted to imagine a globalism, but one that was bottom-to-top, and using globalism to imagine new terrains, for the sake of fiction, for the sake of humanity’s intellectual growth.”

“These are stories that could be directly ripped from our headlines. I think each of these stories is very much its own vignette, and each of these vignettes gives a lot of insight into human nature, as a whole.”

we of the forsaken world takes pride of place next to such notable literary works as David Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS, a finalist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for 2004, and Mohsin Hamid’s EXIT WEST, which was listed by the New York Times as one of its Best Books of 2017.
Bhat’s epic also stands comfortably with the works of contemporary visionaries such as Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick.

Order Your Copy

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2DQIclm

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/2Lqe9Fi

 

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