17 January, 2021

Distant Drummers

Distant Drummers
IT is sometimes said that a novelist's characters really begin to live when they defy him. The inhabitants of The Everest Hotel are lucky they are spared any such confrontation, for in I. Allan Sealy they have an indulgent creator sensitive to their whims, content to let them march to their own drummers. In fact, as the book progresses, you can almost discern an unarticulated drama, a private conversation, between the storyteller and the products of his imagination.

Take the genesis of The Everest Hotel. "I did a watercolour before I wrote the novel," says 47-year-old Sealy. A pair of feet propped up, the mountains in the distance, and a clear divide in the intervening spaceā€”a green graveyard on one side, a grey-and-black auto workshop on the other. "So all I knew was there would be an old man, a division between the old and new India. But characters keep popping up. It's very fanciful. This book was an exercise to see how I could drift...constructively."

But why adopt a Kalidasa-inspired seasonal framework, why limit oneself to a one-mile...



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