What inspired you to write River Valley to Silicon Valley? Please share the experience of writing the book with us.
AK: I had made a promise to myself that I should have my own book before I turn 25. I was going to turn 25 on 1st March 2005 and I was so anxious to tell the world that how Indian democracy and economic reforms that are taking place in India are bringing real and concrete changes in the Indian society by citing example of three generations of my own family. I wanted to write this book at this stage of my life and not later because I feared that I’ll lose my innocence and simplicity after getting immersed into the bureaucratic world of which I had become a part after passing the Civil Services Exam in 2003. I also wanted to share my family’s story with millions of young Indians who were in the schools, colleges and universities and inspire them to dream big. I wanted to gift a book to my young friends in India and abroad who struggle every day for a better tomorrow, who do not have a level playing field, who want to move forward overcoming all obstacles.
I wrote this book between November 2005 and February 2006 in Moscow, mostly post mid-night when the city went off to sleep, and I could peacefully take a journey back in time. Those days I was learning the Russian language at the Center of International Education at the Moscow State University and I had to do a lot of assignments everyday. The only spare time I was left with was after the mid-night. I wrote this book almost regularly for four months except the last ten days of December 2005 and a few days in the beginning of January 2005 when I was traveling in Europe with my friends.
There is a saying that writers live twice and I completely agree with that. I relived my last 25 years while writing this book, as flashes of my past played in mind and turned into words on my notebook. Just to add, I was highly inspired by “The Outsider” by Albert Camus and “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, not only by the content of these books but also by their size. Both these books have around 100 pages each and are easy to read and carry. I too wanted a small book that was easy to read so that a normal reader would not get scared just looking at its size and had the psychological satisfaction of finishing the book in a few days. Somehow, unnecessary details in some novels irritate me and make the whole experience of reading a very boring for me. What really attracts me is a rich story with a flow without unnecessary details unconnected with the story. This is what I wanted to bring out in my book. I must share with you how overjoyed I felt the day I completed my book even while I had no idea whether it will ever be published. I felt triumphant as perhaps there is no greater joy in life than the joy of creating something. Writing itself can be such a joy if it comes from inside, if one has the feeling that one must write.
I felt the book should be read by every young Indian who dares to dream big. What feedback have you received from the book’s young readers? This would include your brother and your friends.
AK: I have received very encouraging comments and reviews about the book from across the globe. In fact I have collected their comments and reviews like precious diamonds and put them together on my website (www.abhayk.com) for readers. One may read all the comments by clicking on the following link-
Link for the Book Reviews- http://www.abhayk.com/Books.php
Have your parents read the book? If yes, what did they have to say?
AK: The book is dedicated to my great father who passed away in July 2006, but he knew all along about this book. In fact, he is the silent narrator of first few pages as all that I came to know about the life of the first and the second generation of my family was through him. He was a great story teller like my grandma. Sadly, he could not see its publication and release.
My mother is waiting for the Hindi translation of the book to read it. Professor Pushpesh Pant from JNU is working on the Hindi translation, and it should be ready by the end of this year.
How are you marketing the book?
AK: These days I am posted in St. Petersburg as Consul of India, far away from my country and I have left it to the publishers to market the book. A thousand copies of the first edition of the book was printed out of which 500 copies have already been sold.
The book can be ordered from anywhere in the world from Linuxbazar.com clicking at the following link http://www.linuxbazar.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=33_82&products_id=18713
The book can also be purchased from the major bookshops in the big cities of India or can be ordered by writing to Bookwell India at the following address- 24/4800,Ansari Road,Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110002, India, Ph-91-1123268786.
I am thinking of bringing out a second edition of the book with a different publisher by the beginning of the next year. I would welcome suggestions from readers to market “River Valley to Silicon Valley” in a better way.
What other writing/publishing projects are you working on these days?
AK: I have written more than a hundred poems during the last two years of my stay in Moscow. I have sent publishing proposals to a number of Poetry publishers in UK, USA and India. I am still waiting for their reply.
Currently, I am working on two books. They deal with different themes. The first book is based in India and tells the chilling story of a young girl from the beginning to the end. The second book is based in the post-Soviet Russia and explores the psychological undercurrents of the Russian society in recent years.
How did you get your book published?
AK: First time writers have always difficulties in publishing their work, and I had to wait for more than a year after writing the book to get it published. I sent the manuscript of my book to many publishers in India who are still kind enough to receive the book directly from the authors unlike in UK or USA where they only receive manuscripts through literary agents. Most of the publishers in India and literary agents in UK turned it down because they could not find anything sensational in my book. Finally, Bookwell India decided to publish 1,000 copies for of the book in April 2007.
The publishing industry has its own business interests in mind. so for them good writing or average writing do not make a difference if the writing can bring in good money. Thus, today the world may never get to know many good writers and poets whose precious works keep biting dust for years until they are discovered or forever if not discovered. The influence of big budget publishing houses do distort the writing trend in the world as more and more people want to write that has the commercial value and not essentially humane values.
How is “River Valley to Silicon Valley” being received outside India?
AK: The book has been translated into Russian and soon a thousand copies will be printed for young Russian readers.
The book has generated interest in UK, USA, Australia, Poland and South Korea. It is also being translated into Korean by a young Korean who wants to share this Indian story with young South Koreans.
4 thoughts on “"I relived my last 25 years while writing this book"”
Great interview :)The title reminds me of how I’ve often thought I’ll feel if I ever finish my work-in-progress memoir. And, of course, if I ever even decide to try to get it published.
Thanks for the interview… I am sure that in the land of Chekov and the writers of the great Russian novel, there would be no dearth of inspirations. it would be fascinating (for me personally) to know about the post- Soviet experience of the Russian people.
Hey hey, Sury. I’ve tagged you for a meme. Have fun!
hi abhayi have been looking at your blog and read your books review and your short stories as i was the student of russian language and literaure but never thought of wwriting blogs or books but i have gone through your stories and few poems its amazing and simple and have great depth in meaning.wish you all the best my friend .we were in same hostel and you seems to be a very silent person and now through the blog you are spreading what you havent spoken at that time.all the best for your future books.