Avtar Singh: On Writing Necropolis
To celebrate the release of Necropolis — a new crime novel by Avtar Singh — we’re pleased to feature a statement from the author on the integral role the city of Delhi plays in the book.
*For a limited time, the e-book edition of Necropolis is available for only $2.99 wherever e-books are sold, including Nook, GooglePlay, Amazon Kindle, and Kobo. (Don’t forget to support your local independent bookstore with your Kobo purchase! A full list of participating Kobo partners can be found at IndieBound.). Looking to get a taste of the book first? Download Summer Games — part one of five self-contained mysteries from the novel — for absolutely free!
I wasn’t born in Delhi, but it is where my parents lived. From boarding school, from college in the US; it was always where I returned to. However, I only came to live in Delhi in my early thirties. It was an entirely different city than the one I’d left as a boy. Then, it had been a faintly provincial city, with neither the glamour nor commercial appeal of Mumbai or Kolkata. But in 2005, it was bursting at the seams; with people, with promise, the weight of other people’s dreams.
It was an incredible moment in time, and being founder-editor of Time Out Delhi was the perfect way to examine what had been, and was now again, my home. I had to leave that job in 2010, when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In between caring for her, I had lots of free time, hours in which I worried at the bones of the questions my engagement with Delhi had left me with.
Who owns this city that’s burst its banks both in size and population? Who has power, what role does class play, how will the city cope with the largest influx in its history? Then there was Delhi’s history, of imperial privilege under the Sultanate, the Mughals, the British; and its mirror—centuries of neglect. And always, there was poetry, Delhi’s own form of choice, in Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and English.
In recent years, Delhi has acquired a reputation for being unsafe, criminal, predatory. How could it not be? And yet the layers of the city were being flattened by this narrative of danger. I decided that writing a book about the very crimes that bedeviled Delhi would be the perfect way to reveal its layers. A gang-rape; the murder of a drug dealer; the abduction of an overprivileged child—these came to me from the headlines. I contributed a secret society of underclass men from Delhi’s fringes, a woman who may be centuries-old and a police officer with a weakness for poetry. And there are vampires and werewolves as well. In a manner of speaking.
AVTAR SINGH is the author of The Beauty of These Present Things. He has worked as a magazine editor in Mumbai and Delhi. He lives in Delhi with his wife, son, and singing dog.
Posted: Jun 15, 2016
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