Rahul Bhattacharya, who lives in New Delhi, is the author of Pundits from Pakistan, a book of reportage, and The Sly Company of People Who Care, a first novel now out from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
From his Q & A with Eric Chinski, Editor in Chief at FSG:
Chinski: Your first book was a work of reportage on the India-Pakistan cricket rivalry. Why did you decide to turn next to writing your first novel?--Marshal Zeringue
Rahul Bhattacharya: I didn’t, actually. The form came afterward, at the moment of writing. What I was responding to was the impulse to get away. It’s a terribly seductive impulse: What are the consequences? In part I was getting away from writing about cricket as well. But I’m grateful to cricket-writing, without which I may not ever have had a chance to visit the Caribbean.
Chinski: The title is The Sly Company of People Who Care. Could you explain what this means?
Bhattacharya: “Company” is for the colonizing company, in this instance the West India Companies. Colonization is a sly thing indeed, both brutal and subtle. The phrase is also for relationships in the book. It’s a book about betrayal, historical and contemporary, and also about fooling oneself maybe.
Chinski: What inspired you to set the novel in Guyana?
Bhattacharya: Guyana came much before the novel. I had been there briefly when I was twenty-two. It seared itself into me. How did that happen? I’m not sure. Landscapes, streetscapes, light and sound, a sense of rawness, of looseness, the possibility of transgressions. People, of course. It was odd that I should feel so deeply about a place so peripheral to my life. It was irresistible and, ultimately, inevitable that I would have to follow that curiosity. As I worked my way through it I felt...[read on]