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1 pm, Dec 18 Dec 18, 2012

On his new book 'Ministry of Hurt Sentiments'

Join Altaf Tyrewala in the IBNLive-Harper Collins Authors' Corner for a live chat on his new book 'Ministry of Hurt Sentiments'.
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14 questions answered | No question pending
  • Haha. Overreact to the headlines. That's a good one. And yes, you certainly have written something unforgettable. Asked by: Rohini
  • Altaf Tyrewala Thanks, Rohini, much appreciated.
  • Is there a particular incident that led to the penning of this book? Asked by: Lori
  • Altaf Tyrewala Hi Lori, six failed attempts at writing a novel. That's the sort of crippling misery that led to the penning of this book.
  • How long did it take you to write this? Asked by: Arjun
  • Altaf Tyrewala Hi Arjun, a year and a half. For 9000 words. Deplorable daily average, if you think about it.
  • I noticed that the different sections are not necessarily related but are linked by a single word. Great technique, if that was deliberate. Asked by: Kiran
  • Altaf Tyrewala It was, Kiran, it was. (Phew!)
  • Many of the incidents you have spoken about, have of course been influenced by real events in the city? Or have you amalgamated a number of newspaper reports? Asked by: Rohini
  • Altaf Tyrewala Hi Rohini, I read the papers like everyone else. But my job as a writer is to over-react to the headlines. The question is: have I transformed these headlines into something interesting and unforgettable? That's for you to decide.
  • Do you have an intended readership with this book other than the regular appreciative audience? Asked by: Sujana
  • Altaf Tyrewala Good question, Sujana. It was while writing this book that I finally shed the various types of audience (real and imaginary) whom I'd allowed into the auditorium of my head. It's a cliche, I know, but these outside pressures play on one's mind without one realising it. I'm not suggesting that I wrote 'Ministry...' for 'no one but myself'. That too is a cliche, and it would be untrue. I write to be read, to be (hopefully) appreciated. But I also write for someone like myself, someone who shares the intensely local worldview that I've formed over a lifetime of living.
  • Your book is hard-hitting and brilliantly written. Congratulations! Asked by: Radhika
  • Altaf Tyrewala Thanks, Radhika, thank you very much.
  • You paint a bleak picture of life. Though beautifully written, it is very dark. Do you think beautiful literature is always dark? Asked by: Prateek
  • Altaf Tyrewala Thanks, Prateek. For me, "beautiful literature" is intensely alive literature. Each sentence should be like a dynamite stick about to explode. I don't know how successful I am in achieving that effect, but that is the ideal I strive for in any case. I began writing 'Ministry...' in a certain frame of mind. That defined the book's tone. I'd like to believe that there are also moments of relief and humour in the book. But yes, once you've committed to a tone, you have to see it through the end. That is my only defense.
  • The book reads like a modern Wasteland. Did you intend it that way? Asked by: Urvashi
  • Altaf Tyrewala Once I'd written about a third of the book, I did become aware of parallels to other works, including Eliot's 'Wasteland'. (Hence the Eliot reference in the book itself.) But there is also Dhasal's 'Golpitha' that was playing on my mind. It's a work I'd been introduced to via the bilingual poet Dilip Chitre (now deceased). Chitre had translated 'Golpitha' from Marathi into English; it was an excellent effort. I suppose the audacity of the language in 'Golpitha' influenced my writing of 'Ministry...' in some subliminal way.
  • 'Ministry of Hurt Sentiments' - interesting title. Waiting to know more about the book. Hope to get one soon.... Asked by: Sandeep Keswani
  • Altaf Tyrewala Please do, Sandeep, and I hope you don't regret your purchase.
  • The book seems to be written in free verse. What made you choose that style? Asked by: Priyanka
  • Altaf Tyrewala Hi Priyanka, I didn't choose the style consciously. After I finished my first novel in 2005, I made several failed attempts (six, to be precise) at writing a conventional novel. It was sometime in late 2010 when I began writing 'Ministry...' The free verse structure liberated me. It allowed me to pack in all the things I wanted to write. In retrospect, I feel the free verse structure also somehow reflects the free-for-all chaos unfolding in Mumbai and other Indian cities. I can only hope that readers enjoy the structure and content.
  • Hi Altaf....just saw this new title...seems very interesting....whats it about? satire, fiction, humor??? Asked by: Sandy
  • Altaf Tyrewala Hello, Sandy. You can check out reviews of my book at the following blog: http://ministryofhurtsentiments.blogspot.in/ I hope the reviews will give you a rough idea about the book, and hopefully encourage you to pick up a copy.
  • I like to the TITLE of this book,,,, what are the contents or this book. Asked by: Qusroo
  • Altaf Tyrewala Hello, Qusroo. The 'Ministry of Hurt Sentiments' is a lot of things: it contains stories, images, sudden narrative streams that intertwine with other narrative streams, social commentary, street lingo. It is, to quote some lines from the book: "Packed with a thousand characters/ That feature for a sentence or two/ Blossoms of flesh that fade like mist/ Disappearing in the time it takes to unhook a bra/ To unwrap a condom/ To say I Do..."
  • What is the genre you are writing in? Prose or poetry? Asked by: Sudeep Sen
  • Altaf Tyrewala Hi Sudeep, good question. I don't know either. Writing is a lot like rebirth: your ideas will wait and wait till they've found the right body. 'Ministry of Hurt Sentiments' looks like poetry, but I meant it be a cascade of stories and images, to somehow reflect the incoherence of modern-day Mumbai and India. I am not a poet. But I don't know if I can qualify as a novelist, either. My first book, 'No God In Sight', was a series of interconnected monologues. 'Ministry...' has probably blurred the genre boundaries even further.

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