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Beguilingly simple



Anand Kurian with Shoba De at the launch of `The Peddler of Soaps'.

SHABANA AZMI calls it "the right novel for these wrong times". Shoba De' dubs it "A love story that's zara hatke...'' Mahesh Bhatt says "this is a subversive book...'' And Milind Soman, the one who appears on the book cover confesses: "Sat up all night reading it. Loved it, wanted to be part of it — so there I am on the cover!"

It's titled The Peddler of Soaps. A love story by Mumbai-based Anand Kurian, a saga of love set against the rise of religious fundamentalism in the mythical islands of MahaDesh. A little book, of less than 40,000 words, it has a narrator called Arunabha "Tipu" Bhattacharya. And the voice is Tipu's own, tangential and as beguilingly simple as a conversation; his narrative style, light, and easy.

Now, the news: the book and its writer, an ad filmmaker to be precise, are in town for its Bangalore launch. With Sankars The Book People and the WLI Foundation playing hosts, danseuse Vani Ganapathy will release the book on December 24 at Sankar's, 15/2, Madras Bank Road, Off St. Mark's Road, at 6.30 p.m. The launch will be followed by an interactive discussion on "Should Art and Politics mix?", with Prasad Bidappa, Arjun Sajnani, and Anita Nair participating. Anand Kurian's book has climbed to the top spot in the Top 10 Fiction book list of The Times of India, Mumbai, The Financial Express Best Sellers' List and the list of The Sunday Indian Express, New Delhi. After the Bangalore launch, readings will be held in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Thiruvananthapuram.

A word about the author, Anand Kurian. Tongue firmly in cheek, Kurian traces "his lineage to the one hundred Namboodiris of Kerala, sharing his ancestry with Adi Sankara, one of the great Hindu philosophers". Kurian was born in Kolkata and educated at Bombay Scottish School, St. Xavier's and Elphinstone College, Mumbai. He graduated in law from the Government Law College, topping moot courts in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Kurian made his career in advertising, producing, and directing commercials for every multinational major from Coca Cola to Frito Lays to P&G. The Peddler of Soaps is his first novel.

By Rasheed Kappan

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