Netherfield Ball – The Story Behind Meru Gokhale’s No-Show at Chiki Sarkar’s Launch of Perumal Murugan’s Book, India Islamic Center
The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s a cold smoggy evening at the bleak India Islamic Center and we are growing attached to an intellectual’s grey braid.
The Delhi Walla is at the launch of Perumal Murugan’s novel The Goat Thief. The author is a modest man; so modest that he slips inside the waiting hall and nobody notices him. Only after he sits down on a corner sofa that a handful of attendees become aware of his presence and approach him for book signing.
Meanwhile, Chiki Sarkar, Mr Murugan’s publisher at Juggernaut Books, has not arrived yet. They say Ms Sarkar snatched our novelist-of-the-evening from Penguin Random House.
Wait, we sniff gossip here(!)
Can this be the reason behind the enigmatic absence of Penguin’s boss, Meru Gokhale? After all, she was spotted during the launch of Mr Murugan’s earlier book held just a few months ago at Teen Murti Bhawan (see that evening’s dispatch here).
But dear reader, go elsewhere for conspiracy theories. In Khan Market cafes at least, both these editors are said to be on very, very friendly terms.
A few more people are trickling in. One of them is the righteous Ananya Vajpeyi. The scholar is celebrated for her profound literary taste–she is part of a jury that will decide the best novel of 2017 for The Hindu Literary Prize (the suspense is killing).
Finally, Ms Sarkar arrives. The charming women and men dutifully file into a conference hall.
And the steward behind the tea counter starts stacking the used cups.
The illusion of calmness?
1. (Perumal Murugan)