Westland acquires Saharu Nusaiba Kannanari’s first novel, ‘Chronicle of an Hour and a Half’, an engrossing read on violence and complicity

In the foothills of the Western Ghats, the village of Vaiga is enduring the worst storm it has seen in decades: ceaseless rain, fallen trees, flooded river, severe power cut… But another more insidious storm is brewing beneath the facade of provincial life. It begins as a rumour of an illicit affair -a rumour that brings Saud and his sons to Vaiga in search of Burhan. The rumour soon takes on a life of its own, embellished through frantic WhatsApp messages, with everyone turning into gatekeepers of morality even as they relish the prurient details of the alleged affair.

In the ensuing chaos, fuelled by petty grievances and savage speculation, Vaiga erupts into violence as a mob takes to the street, baying for blood.

Tautly written and compellingly imagined, Saharu Nusaiba Kannanari’s “Chronicle of an Hour and a Half” is an engrossing, unsettling read on violence and complicity.

Commenting on the acquisition, Kannanari said: “While I wrote this novel set in a close-knit, WhatsApp-obsessed village in Kerala, I might have been thinking about Don Delillo’s foreboding that, as technology advances in scope and complexity, fear becomes more primitive. He ends the prologue to his 1991 masterpiece ‘Mao II’ with another prognostication -the future belongs to crowds. Perhaps I have set the two statements in conversation with one another to conjure up this rather violent glimpse into contemporary India. This is my debut, and I am delighted that the book will have its best friends in Karthika, Ajitha, Minakshi and others at Westland.”

Karthika V.K., Publisher, Westland Books, said, “There’s something urgent and edgy about this brilliantly conceived debut novel. Every scene in it plays out so vividly and at so many levels that it’s like reading and listening and watching, all at the same time.”

Ajitha G.S., Publisher, Context, said, “Saharu’s novel is that rare thing -an entirely original voice in English-language fiction in India. The novel transports the reader almost viscerally to the village of Vaiga, where events build up rapidly to a frightening end. I read it breathlessly, in one go.”

Saharu Nusaiba Kannanari lives in a small town called Areekode, near Calicut, Kerala. He completed his BA from Aligarh Muslim University and MA from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. This is his first novel.

20221216-153401

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