Tag Archives: kailash srinivasan

Raymond Carver and me

Suspend belief for a moment. Imagine Raymond Carver didn’t succumb to lung cancer in 1988 and is still walking and writing among us. He’d be ten days off turning 74 and likely would have continued to shape the modern short story, solidifying himself even further as one of last century’s most important writers. And now imagine, upon hearing about Sincere Forms of Flattery, he agreed to do an interview with Indian writer, Kailash Srinivasan, who idolises Carver and his creative genius and chose Carver as his author for SFOF. Imagine, imagine, imagine.

We think the interview would have done a little something like this…


I’m sitting on this yellow couch, in this otherwise sparse room, waiting for Raymond Carver, and frankly, hyperventilating. Then all of a sudden he walks in, like an elephant, unperturbed and towering over everything in the room, including me, in a flannel shirt and khakis. His feet are bare. I tell him almost immediately that he looks a bit like Sean Connery, and he says, “That’s nice, thank you.”

I feel like giggling and weeping at the same time. I can feel it rising up to my throat, like vomit, and if I don’t vocalise it, it will manifest itself in some way or the other, so I blurt it out.

Me: Will you please adopt me, please?

Carver: I have always been broke. I still am. Think about it.

Me: Please, please, please teach me how to write like you. Will you? Please say yes. Yes?

Carver: (Laughs) Why would you want that? I want you to write like you, not like me. Would you rather be known as Carver Junior or Kailash Srinivasan? I like your name. Sounds intellectual. Wish I had a name like that.

Me: Would you tell me what you think of this story I wrote?

Carver: (Puts his glasses on, glances through). Cut these words in the opening paragraph, these in the middle and at the end.

Me: But it’s only 1000 words long anyway. It’s down to five hundred now.

Carver: But now, it pierces the heart with more force.

Me: Do you think I should take to drinking, work crap jobs, become a young dad, and go broke to write better?

Carver: (Laughs, again) There were these long periods of time when I did not write any fiction. How I wish I had those years back now! If I hadn’t turned to the bottle in that time, I might’ve been richer, possibly, and might’ve had a much larger volume of work.

Me: Where do you get your stories from? From your own life?

Carver: None of my stories have actually happened, but there’s always something said to me, or that I heard or witnessed, which, if it stays with me, becomes a starting point for a story. Stories can’t come out of thin air, they’re mostly referential. Everything we write has a small part of us in it.

Me: I am only allowed to ask you five questions, so I’ll have to leave now. I don’t want to.

Carver: Well, you can always email them to me. You can, of course, hang around. I can make you a Tuna sandwich, if you like. I promise not to answer any more of your questions, but I will tell you a thing or two about writing short stories.

I fall at his feet, crying, “Yes, of course I will. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t. And thank you, thank you so much for talking to me.” Then we talked of the time when he published his first story, Pastoral, and how he and his wife had driven around town with the letter of acceptance in his hands. And how that letter had given their lives some much-needed validation.



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Them Pretentious Basterds – April 2012 Issue

Them Pretentious Basterds is a brilliant, razor-sharp, online quarterly literary magazine that believes that “good writing and good art can come from anywhere.” They intend this magazine to “showcase high quality fiction, poetry and art from India.” This edition features one of my stories, Deo Volente.
What the editors said about the story: “We enjoyed the story’s tongue-in-cheek narrative, its well-meaning-but-more-than-a-little confused characters, and the best of all, the way you have converted a mundane activity into a cross between light comedy and a suspense thriller (Not quite, but enough of the genre’s trademark style in there to make us smile).”
From the editors of Them Pretentious Basterds
“Dear Reader,
We present the Teal issue of Them Pretentious Basterds magazine. Loud, uncut and in your face, the magazine features the work of 12 writers from India you wish you had heard about. This edition contains dystopic suicide bars, smoking sadhus, some repentance, and some reprieve. Mix in ball point pen illustrations, comic book art and photography, and it’s one heady cocktail of fiction, poetry and art. Click on the link below to earn authentic karma points. Go on, surprise yourself.


The Editors
Them Pretentious Basterds”

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Book Reviews: Urban Shots Love Collection

Book Reviews: Urban Shots Love Collection. Click on the links to read more :

http://crispingcanary.blogspot.in/2012/03/urban-shots-book-review.html “I enjoyed Kailash Srinivasan’s ‘High Time’ because of the dialogues primarily. Natural, funny and effortless…”

http://aspoonfullofworld.blogspot.in/2012/03/urban-shots-book-review.html – “Kailash Srinivasan’s a little off beat ‘High Time‘ humored me especially because of its South Indian stereotypes…”

http://flashnewstoday.com/index.php/urban-shots-the-love-collection/ – “High Time – hilarious play of words and expressions that turn the tables…”

http://prats.co.in/urban-shots-the-love-collection/ – “High Time (Kailash Srinivasan) – A beautiful story which will leave you in the fits of laughter”

http://dfuse.in/reviews-all/book-reviews/review-urban-shots-love-collection/ “High Time, Kailash Srinivasan, for its use of humour and sarcasm”

http://momofrs.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/book-review-urban-shots-the-love-collection/ “High Time brings its giggles and smiles.

http://twinklingtinawrites.blogspot.in/2012/03/book-review-urban-shots-love-collection.html   “Some other stories worth commenting are ‘High Time’ by Kailash Srinivasan”

http://www.bookchums.com/book/urban-shots-the-love-collection/9789381626474/MzE0MjA=.html# – “Kailash Srinivasan’s ‘High Time’ is a pleasant humorous take on the prelude to arranged marriage.”



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What Happened to That Love: Book Review

What Happened to That Love

Not for us the regular stands, we will only watch a cricket match in the VIP enclosure. Cattle class is for the herds, we travel business or first. Average is not an option when extraordinary is available as well.

When will this stop? When will this fascination with the remarkable take a turn towards the reality of our situations? When will we realize that we DO lead mundane lives? In fact, almost the same life as the person next to us.

Consider this. Playtime is supreme during childhood and late nights are a mysterious, out-of-reach goal. Then comes puberty and experimentations with our sexuality. And parents begin to turn dictators around this time. Closing the door of your bedroom can raise eyebrows quicker than a naked man on the road. College and university start knocking on that door very soon, setting the tone for future careers. Love happens in the middle of all this or after, and then marriage, kids and family life follow. Death, money troubles, divorce or disease – all make an appearance at some point. Peppering our mundane lives with a little flavor. In some lives, lessons are learnt. In others, they’re bypassed for the road more travelled.

One adjective remains constant, lurking in the shadows, ready to step into the light. Mundane never leaves.

Which is why, Kailash Srinivasan’s debut novel, What Happened to That Love, hits a chord somewhere. His collection of short stories is so commonplace that any of them could be your stories. Or mine. And he tells them too, in the most ordinary narrative.

In Anytime Now, an old couple on the brink of death clutches on to frail existence, each wanting to die before the other so that loneliness does not engulf them. Sounds familiar? How about the next story, Brownies? A man of Indian origin in Australia lives with racial prejudice and the threat of violence, wanting all the time to come back to his motherland. His turmoil and his helplessness at his situation play havoc in his own mind. Or the next – What Happened to That Love? Two people fall out of love and move on to other people. And are then struck with how fast they have been able to move on. Did they really love each other? What was their relationship about?

These are just three of the twelve tales that Srinivasan spins. With the delicate thread of life. His patterns are simple because their content is complicated enough. He doesn’t delve too far or get too creative, choosing instead a prosaic approach. He says things like they are. For instance, the protagonist of What Should I Do is a man whose ex-wife barges into his home and refuses to leave, terrorizing him and his second wife and children. He gets blamed and doesn’t know how to resolve the situation, because he loves both women. If we start counting how many real and reel life situations that have been based on that premise, we’d need several reams of paper!

Srinivasan’s other stories are similar – a village woman sells her body to feed her children when her husband is away working in the city; a couple sacrifice everything they have to educate their son and send him abroad to study and make a fine living, only to have him forget them soon after; a little girl faces physical abuse at the hands of her father; a young girl is so traumatized by her father abandoning her mother that she develops a psychological block against men, remaining a spinster all her life; a cruel and miserly village landlord organizes a feast for the villagers in order to overcome an illness, and then charges them heavy fines once he recovers; the stories go on.

There are no frills anywhere, the stories are heart-wrenching enough on their own. Srinivasan’s simplistic and lucid writing becomes his biggest weapon. He stabs you with each word. Quick incisions that aren’t deep but draw blood. The saltiness of the warm liquid fills your senses, as you realize that these stories are nothing new, but their portrayal leaves you dizzy with reaction. Hurting not just for the characters in them, but for yourself. Their mundane-ness is familiar, and you suddenly realize why you run towards the different, the exotic, the special.

It is the mundane that wrenches your gut, churns your soul. Maybe that’s why, you and I want no part of it. Absolutely none.

SOURCE: http://blog.uprack.com/

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Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: On Friendship.

Have one of my pieces published in the recently released Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: On Friendship, and very, very excited. Below is an excerpt of my piece from the book:


The first night in my new home, I couldn’t sleep and kept tossing and turning in the bed. I suddenly felt like a child who’d been snatched from the loving arms of his mother and sent to live with grouchy relatives.

The initial months were the hardest. I had no friends and no job. My housemates, all Australians, wouldn’t include me in any of their plans, proving to be exactly like I’d pictured them to be: boorish and stuck-up. They would invite their friends over and have dinner parties, while I’d quietly sit in my room with a bowl of Maggi noodles (one of the thing that was within my budget). No job meant no money to dine at a nice restaurant, or indulge in chocolates, or even a pint of beer (or anything I could do without). I was depressed and would often cry pressing my face against the pillow. I wanted to go home.

To stop feeling sorry for myself I’d take long walks. On one such evening, I saw a group of pigeons pecking at grains strewn around by passersby. Grays and whites, all cooped up in one corner and then, there was a brown one, on its own – much like myself, I thought. It reminded me of the way I had lunch at the University – sitting alone on one of the vacant benches, looking at others who always seemed to have someone to talk to. I bought a pack of popcorn and spilled it in front of the bird. At once, the other birds swooped in, sidelining the brown one again. I stood there awhile wondering whether it too came from India and lost its way.


You can buy your own copy here: http://tinyurl.com/3jnnxn2

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What Happened to That Love Review

by Adeena Jamal Ahmad on Jul 8, 2011

what happened love Review: What Happened to That Love? by Kailash Srinivasan
Price: Rs 125
Publication: Pustak Mahal

Verdict: Srinivasan’s understanding of love has many shades and they’re evident in his debut collection of 12 short stories.

Rating: 3/5

Kailash Srinivasan, with his debut novel, has surely created ripples with a collection of twelve stories that pertain to Love. The preconceived notion about the book could be how it will probably deal with cheesy romantic sagas. But no, the book has interpreted a different meaning of love altogether. Srinivasan has seen the several aspects of the word love that has many shades to woo you.

The language of the book is light. No flamboyant writing to show off. Simple words that perhaps express the true meaning of emotions. The beauty of the book is that every short story has touched a different aspect of love. There is no deep psychology that one has to interpret. It just highlights little felt emotions that one feels everyday but doesn’t really realize. Srinivasan has taken a sarcastic look at certain situations, interpreting the irony in many of them.

The only point that might not appeal to a reader is the cover of the book. Keeping in sync with the emotions it deals, the cover could be a little more appealing. However, the page quality and print is fine.

The set up of the book is based alternatively in India and Australia. The stories are breezy. The USP of the book is that it is an easy read. There is no unnecessary stretching. Precise is the operative word.

For a debutant writer, Kailash Srinivasan has hit the bull’s eye. His brief stories have delivered the right emotion. It is a relief from the recent genre of books that fail to click with readers. This quick read will not disappoint you.

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Twelve Yarn Read

Indian writers who write in English have grown by leaps and bound. Added to this list is Pune-based Kailash Srinivasan who has come out with his first debut novel titled What Happened to that Love, a collection of 12 short stories which cover almost a range of human emotions and issues.

Set in India and Australia, the novel is a difficult genre, in Srinivasan’s words. A communications manager at an automotive design school, Srinivasan has completed his Masters in Creative Writing from Macquarie University, Sydney.

•   What made you write this book and how would you define it?

I have wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember. I tried to get over it, but the urge kept getting stronger with every passing year.

Finally, I went to Macquarie University, Sydney, to do a Masters in Creative Writing. I wrote a lot during this period, which in more ways than one, helped in shaping me as a writer. This short story collection was my thesis. I would describe the book as a collection of stories that explores life, death, love, ache, greed, hope, destiny, alienation, fallacies, and the nature of rural and urban life, and the changes that come to us all.

•   Is it fiction or partly based on your experiences?

Inspiration for most of the stories in the novel, just happened to come from the most unlikeliest sources. For example, there is a piece, Anytime Now, about an old couple. The story gives the readers a little glimpse into their life.

I happened to go for a stroll in Eastwood (where I was staying at the time), when from across the street I see an old man slumped on the ground. He was struggling to get to his feet. His wife was backing her car. She was about to hit him and I could see him panic a little bit. I bolted down the road and helped the man. The inspiration for Ganga, which deals with poverty came from a song I was listening to.

That line just struck a chord with me. Similarly, I was quite disturbed with reports of  farmers committing suicides. Giver of Feasts is about zamindari system. Then, at the time the media was rife with reports on attacks on Indian students Down Under. Brownies sprung out of that. So not much of a personal experience, but rather a moving encounter or a strong image or something I heard on a train or a bus that has been the origin for most of the stories in this book.

•   Any particular story which you have connected the most with.

I have enjoyed writing every piece in this book, but if I have to pick one, it would have to be Anytime Now.

•   What makes writing special for you?

Writing for me is therapeutic. It is liberating. I can be what I can’t be in real life. At times, I find things about myself through my writing.

•   Your take on the current breed of Indian writers in English…

There are some great books that are being written and then there are some atrocious ones. Some are selling millions of copies with absolutely no substance in their books and claim to be the voice of India. But in a way I don’t blame the so called “writers”, I blame those who buy such sub-standard, mediocre literature and read it.

•   What sort of responses are you expecting for your debut book?

I expect my work to engage people emotionally, intellectually.

•   Your favourite authors…

An incomplete list would be Junot Diaz, Raymond Carver, Chekhov, VS Naipaul, Salman Rushdie.



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