Book Release: INDIAN MAGIC by Balraj Khanna
Announcement by HopeRoad Publishing
‘I am absolutely bowled over by this novel… Balraj Khanna has written a novel that is funny, beautiful and heartrending. Ravi Kumar Mehra is a wonderful creation and his adventures are as hilarious as they are fresh, yet always in the shadows. Khanna is holding up a mirror which reflects a declining England, a country on the wane, mired in its own history. The prose is spare and sparkles on the page as one might expect from a man included in the hundred top novelists of the 20th century. There is the energy of the subcontinent and the new India in this book. Khanna delivers with the wisdom of a Naipaul, the dexterity of Vikram Seth and the honesty and observation of Zadie Smith.’ Paul Pickering, novelist
‘The young Mehra’s story reminds one of Tom Jones and Lucky Jim. Brilliant!’ Reginald Massey
Release date: 06 May 2014
Author Balraj Khanna was born in the Punjab, India, and arrived in London in the Swinging Sixties to study English. Instead, he took to art – eventually becoming ‘one of the most distinguished painters working in England’ (Bryan Robertson). His novels include Nation of Fools which was adjudged ‘one of the 200 best novels in English since 1950,’ Sweet Chillies and The Mists of Simla. Balraj lives in London, next door to Lords Cricket Ground – which he describes as his ‘spiritual home.’
DUNIA MAGAZINE EXCLUSIVE Q & A WITH AUTHOR BALRAJ KHANNA
– You were born in Punjab, India and now live in the United Kingdom. Please tell us about the core values instilled in you which still guide you today.
Core values instilled in me were to remain truthful to myself and the world. Also, never to do something I know to be wrong. Regarding my work as a painter and a writer, I believe what is significantly more important than anything else is DEDICATION, COMMITMENT and SINGLE-MINDEDNESS. Also, Love Thy Family and Chosen Friends.
– When and how did you connect with your love of painting and writing? What advise would you have for those still seeking to connect with their purpose?
I used to draw endlessly as a child in India. I was educated in Simla in the Himalayan foothills, the summer capital of the Raj. It was an English town in the midst of spectacular natural beauty surrounded by awesome snow-capped mountain peaks, a stirring permanent visual feast which was a great source of inspiration for the latent painter in me. But I began to paint seriously only after my arrival in England circa 1963. The loneliness and the alienation I had to endure made me look inwards and I began to paint the downright depressing townscape of that dreadful winter which reflected how I felt. I also kept a day to day journal which was more in the form of a novel than journalistic reportage. The two activities complimented each other and continue to do so to date. My advice to youngsters would be: believe in yourself and dedicate yourself to what you believe in.
– Tell us about your soon to be released book Indian Magic … what inspired it, what can readers expect?
What inspired it was the excruciating loneliness I had to put up with during my first few months in the yet-to- start-swinging-60s. I had an MA in Eng Lit, so my first love was for literature, and it seemed natural that I would be drawn to the written work concomitantly with paint. INDIAN MAGIC is the story of a good-looking 23-year old from a well-to-do and loving Indian family who comes to the world’s `Best Country’ to make something of himself. But disillusionment sets in early and it is bitter – there are `No Black, No Indians, No Irish’ in notices for rooms to rent in newsagents’ windows. But our hero, Ravi Mehra, is determined. He gets to know young Indians and Pakistanis and realises that they are all in the same boat, and finds strength in his friendship with them. But his life becomes dangerous when he falls deeply in love with a gem of an English rose, Jane Muir next door, and happily, vice versa. For her Dad not only just disapproves, the loaded-gun-carrying second hand car dealer simply wants to have him eradicated from the `roadside’ courtesy of hired hoodlums. However, LOVE as ever triumphs.
– What’s in the future for Balraj Khanna?
Historians and novelists can dabble in the past, but they must not look in crystal balls for the future. I had a retrospective at MOMA Wales and digital solo last year. I am currently showing at Osborne Samuel Gallery in Bruton Street, Mayfair. And I am hectically engaged with a novel about the Indian partition of 1947 that I wrote the first draft of years ago. At the same time, I am working on a new series of paintings.
An exhibition of Mr Khanna’s paintings entitled WINTER MONSOON is showing in London at Osbourne Samuel Gallery, 23 a Bruton Street W1, Tel 020 7493 7939.
Founded in 2011, HopeRoad is devoted to the publishing of multicultural literature of most genres, including crime fiction and works in translation. Among our stable of important authors are, London-Jamaican’s ‘Brixton Bard’ Alex Wheatle MBE, American-Batswana Lauri Kubuitsile, Londoner Dave Renton and Pakistan’s Qaisra Shahraz.