Many years ago, when I was a teenager, a cousin who was much older than me lent me a favourite book of hers: Edward Rutherfurd’s Sarum. Sarum was the ancient name of the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire, England, a place of great antiquity; and Rutherfurd’s Sarum is a novel about interconnected families, their stories playing out against a backdrop of history being created. Beginning with the Ice Age, these characters live their lives as Stonehenge is built, as the Romans invade and then establish a colony in England; as Salisbury Cathedral is erected, as the Black Death grips England… going right up to 1984, this was an epic book that made a huge impression on me. I couldn’t help wondering: given India’s long and fascinating history, wouldn’t it be satisfying to read a book similar to Sarum, but set in India?
Back then, I had no plans to someday become a writer. But finally, a few years back, when I’d written the Muzaffar Jang series and had learnt a good deal about the history of Delhi, Sarum came to mind again, and with it, that long-ago wish that someone would write an Indian equivalent.
Here it is: The Garden of Heaven, the first book in the Delhi Quartet. The Delhi Quartet will span 800 years of Delhi’s history, beginning shortly before the invasion of Mohammad Ghuri, and extending till just after Partition; the first 200 years of that stretch are covered in The Garden of Heaven.
I rarely turn down an offer of a book, unless it’s something that I absolutely know will not be my cup of tea. But a book about classic cinema? I said thank you to Joe, and waited for my copy of Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures.
For those of you who associate me only with Muzaffar Jang and historical fiction, this may come as a surprise (though a pleasant one, I hope): my third book has been released, and it has very little to do with history.
My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories(published by Westland Limited, ISBN: 9789381626870) is a collection of contemporary black humour, with some stories being more humorous than black, while others are darker and less funny. All, however, do have one signature element that I particularly like: the twist in the tale.
… and about me, and my sister Swapna. Swapna did a repeat of the Muzaffar Jang walk through some parts of Shahjahanabad – especially Chandni Chowk and just around, for a journalist, Priyanka Kotamraju of The Indian Express. Priyanka interviewed us along the way, and here’s what she came up with: a story about the Liddles and their love of history.
Muzaffar Jang, my Mughal detective, is busy solving more cases – in my head right now, as I write the fourth book in the series. However, you can read Muzaffar’s earlier adventures now in electronic form too. Some readers outside … Continue reading →
No, I’m not vegetating somewhere. I am actually working on the fourth book in the Muzaffar Jang series (so, if you like the series, you’ll probably have guessed that the third book is already written). I’m also doing the occasional writing assignment, and some more offbeat but interesting stuff, also connected to Muzaffar Jang. Continue reading →
As I’d mentioned earlier, we’d planned a ‘Muzaffar Jang Walk’ through parts of Shahjahanabad yesterday, December 11, 2011. It was organised by Habitat World and was led by my sister, Swapna Liddle. I won’t let the cat out of the … Continue reading →
When The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries was launched in August this year, my sister, Swapna Liddle – historian, ardent enthusiast about Delhi’s history, and a person who’s been leading heritage walks in Delhi for over a decade – said, “How about a Muzaffar Jang walk?”
I’ve been on dozens of heritage walks led by Swapna. Walks for Habitat World (at the India Habitat Centre); for the Delhi Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH); even informal exploratory expeditions through the maze of bylanes and necessarily-single-file alleys of Shahjahanabad. What I love about Swapna’s style is that she knows a lot, and she knows how to tell it like a story – with delightful anecdotes, interesting facts, and little tidbits that help bring history alive. So of course, when Swapna suggested a Muzaffar Jang walk, I jumped at the offer.
Here it is.
On December 11, 2011, at 08.30 AM, the Muzaffar Jang Walk. It’s being organised jointly by Habitat World and Hachette India, and Swapna will be leading the walk. She’ll be talking about Shahjahanabad, of course, but with a special emphasis on buildings, areas, even other little details that feature in the two Muzaffar Jang books, The Englishman’s Cameo and The Eighth Guest. And no, it won’t be just the predictable Red Fort and Jama Masjid.
So come along for the walk. It begins at the Jain Digamber Lal Mandir (at the end of Chandni Chowk, opposite the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort. The walk begins at 08.30 AM. Please register with the Programmes Desk at Habitat World by phoning 011-4366-3080/90. Places are very limited, so register as soon as you can.