Muzaffar Jang is back! Announcing: Crimson City

(Plug alert: my latest novel, what it’s about, and some background)

Some of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while—or who know something of what I write about besides classic cinema—probably know by now that I am also the creator of a fictional 17th century Mughal detective named Muzaffar Jang. Muzaffar first appeared in a short story in a collection of South Asian women’s writing, called 21 Under 40. I had, however, already half-written a novel featuring this protagonist, and that book, set in the summer of 1656, went on to become the first full-length Muzaffar Jang novel, The Englishman’s Cameo, published by Hachette India in 2008.

Seven years later, and here I am, at the fourth book of the series.

Crimson City, the fourth book in the Muzaffar Jang series.

Crimson City, the fourth book in the Muzaffar Jang series.

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A book trailer, and some news

Engraved in Stone, the latest in the Muzaffar Jang series, is now available in bookstores as well as online. Here’s a brief book trailer to whet your appetite:

There’s lots here – history (including plenty about the building of the iconic Taj Mahal), romance, and two mysteries, not just one. Interested? Order your copy now!

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Photos from the Muzaffar Jang Walk

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

Announcing: The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries

A number of readers have been asking me when the next Muzaffar Jang book – the sequel to The Englishman’s Cameo – will be out. So here it is.

Muzaffar Jang features again, in this series of mystery stories, nearly all of them set in Shahjahanabad, the Dilli of Shahjahan’s last years as the Mughal Emperor. As the blurb on the back of the book puts it:

“It is the year 1656. Muzaffar Jang, that rare creature in Shahjahan’s Dilli, an aristocrat with friends in low places, is recovering from injuries sustained during his recent adventures involving two mysterious Englishmen and some reprehensible activities against the Imperial Exchequer.

Muzaffar’s bruised shoulder has yet to heal when he finds himself catapulted into a series of mysteries: An elephant in the Royal Elephant Stables goes berserk and kills its mahout – or does it? A scholarly nobleman – but, oh, such a pompous bore – is left a very puzzling legacy by his father. An artist at the imperial atelier is found murdered next to one of his works.

Muzaffar must pit his wits against treacherous noblemen and scheming traders, greedy villagers and lovelorn men – and women.

But who knows? Before the year is out, Muzaffar may just meet his match…”

I am especially fond of writing short stories, so this collection is one I’ve particularly enjoyed putting together – and they’re stories I hope you will like. The book will be formally released in Delhi, at the India Habitat Centre, on August 19, 2011 – but you can pre-order now on any of these online bookstores:

Landmark | Flipkart | Crossword | IndiaPlaza

And yes, there’s even an early review already published, on this blog.







Forthcoming books – and a contribution

Apologies for the long silence. It isn’t as if I’ve packed up pen and paper (rather, my laptop) and gone off to vegetate somewhere. There are things happening in my world of writing; the problem is that writing takes such a long time. There’s many a month between the inception of an idea and the day the book hits the shelves… I have a book coming out probably in October 2011; this will be the sequel to The Englishman’s Cameo, and I’m currently writing the sequel to that book. So, Muzaffar Jang fans have something to look forward to – both this winter, and the next.

In addition to that, Westland-Tranquebar will be releasing a collection of my short stories – all on the theme of dark humour – probably in November 2011.

And, meanwhile, here’s another book to which I’ve contributed: The Popcorn Essayists: What Movies do to Writers. It’s an anthology of film-related writing from well-known Indian writers who don’t typically write about cinema: Manjula Padmanabhan, Sumana Roy, Amitava Kumar, Anjum Hassan and others – including me.  Published by Westland-Tranquebar, compiled and edited by Jai Arjun Singh, the book will be formally released in March 2011. It’s already available online on Flipkart, though, so if you live in India, you can order it here.

The stories in this book promise to be very interesting. If you’re a cinema buff, don’t miss this one.


Oh, and yes: an excerpt from my essay for The Popcorn Essayists: What Movies do to Writers. I contributed an article on one of my favourite themes from cinema, suspense thrillers from Hindi cinema in the 1950s and 60s. The piece is called Villains and Vamps and All Things Camp, and here’s a sneak peek:

“The spy kings also seemed to command the hottest molls and the most ingenious torture equipment. I suppose finances come into that; you can’t have Helen as a ‘secretary’ who operates a machine that slowly grills the hero over a bed of coals, when all you’re doing is running a backyard bootlegging outfit. But ooh, the spy kings, with their truckloads of dirty money! They were the ones who could afford the works: the leopard skin-hot pink satin-mirrored ceiling dens, the bars crowded with bottles of Vat 69, the hordes of henchmen clad in too-tight pants and T-shirts.


There’s something so giddily, gorgeously glorious about it all.”

Happy reading!

TEC: Going Places… hopefully!

A few quick updates for those who liked The Englishman’s Cameo (and for those who didn’t: Haaah!). But seriously, these are all very encouraging bits of news for a newbie author writing in a genre that the literati seems to generally frown upon.

First of all, The Englishman’s Cameo (or, as Hachette and I refer to it, TEC) has been long-listed for the Vodafone Crossword Book Award in the Fiction Category. All right, nomination and long-listing seems to be synonymous this year, but still. The competition’s very stiff; there are 72 other books in the running, with entries from both stalwarts as well as new authors. TEC needs all the luck and good wishes it can get (not to mention votes).

Secondly, a bit of good news for those who live in the UK and have been waiting to lay their hands on the book: Little, Brown will release TEC in UK stores in October 2010. The book’s already been featured on the UK-based book site Curious Book Fans and by the time the book’s on the shelves in the UK, you can hope for more: a review, an interview, etc.

Lastly, something that’s really not that much in the way of literary recognition, but hey, so what. The Indian National Parliament Library purchased The Englishman’s Cameo in February 2010. And Arti Jain of Friends of Books assures me that ‘they’re very discerning’. So I take that as a pat on the back!

Le Camée Anglais – The French edition of The Englishman’s Cameo

For those of you out there who can read and understand French, a book I’d recommend: Le Camée Anglais. Or, in English, The Englishman’s Cameo. The French edition of the novel, published by Éditions Philippe Picquier, will be released on April 8, 2010. It’s been translated by Melanie Basnel, and has a handy glossary at the end too. This is what the blurb on the back cover reads: 1656, en Inde sous le règne Shah Jahan. Un ouvrier bijoutier est injustement accuse du meurtre de Murad Begh, notable de la ville. Heureusement pour lui, il compte parmi ses amis le jeune Muzaffar, un noble un peu excentrique qui a pour fâcheuse habitude de n’en faire qu’à sa tête. Pour sauver son ami, Muzaffar se lance à corps perdu dans la quête du veritable muertrier. A force de prendre au sérieux sa nouvelle vocation de detective, il se retrouve malgré lui au cœur d’une aventure qui l’emmènera bien loin de son quotidian sans surprises et lui fera découvrier ce qui se trame derrière les murs du fort de Dilli, dans les salons des courtisanes et sous les dorures du palais imperial. Corruption, trahison, meurtres et manigances sont monnaie courante dans l’empire mohol. Et Muzaffar va l’apprendre à ses dépens. The book’s available in bookstores across France. You can also buy it online at: Amazon Canada Mollat Frnac Alapage Happy reading!

With intent to abscond

I have spent the last few days busy with other activities (yes, I don’t even remember which was the last film I saw—which says a lot!) I have been busy giving interviews, getting photographed—ugh—and rehearsing reading aloud with getting jittery and breathless.
For those of you not in the know, this is all because I’m on the verge of the launch of my first novel, The Englishman’s Cameo.

The Englishman's Cameo by Madhulika Liddle

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