Serendipity and After/4

a novel about publishing of a novel

Yesterday Ramaswamy, my editor, called me at night. He talked to me for about an hour, mostly about Shadowland, about how he blundered with his first editing ten years ago and how he insists on publishing it in its original version from which he had cut out just one sentence. He seemed way too displeased with the publisher, though for the wrong reason.

As ever he was fulsome about the novel and very hopeful about its future. “It’s the great Kolkata novel written in English,” he said.

After our conversation, I was checking my mail. I saw an e-mail by Ramaswamy:

if the publisher actually said all this, i’m somewhat pained.

he doesn’t know me.

know how trustworthy i am.

once the restored bits are included — there will be no more demands, only some deletion, at most.

today is a very special day for me. It is the day on which — I finally found my field. That is Literature. Mother Literature. Ma-Mati-Manush.

Apni ki koren? — Ami Sahityo-kormi.


This morning I had to reply to that e-mail.


You have misunderstood the publisher. He has profound respect for you. I’ve found him listening in awe whenever I have recounted anythingabout you. You are to him a star, and he is simply struck with you.

What you read in my novel yesterday is purely made up. I don’t really know why and how he came across in my narrative that way. Novelists lie a lot, you know, to speak the truth. Perhaps it is a lie of that kind. The fact is, he’s a simple, honest and passionate dude. True he sometimes brags about his publishing house, but is he not bringing out wonderful books mostly by unknown authors one after another for the past few years?

I called him this morning to know about the status of our book. He says he has no problem with the original 86,000- word version. It would sure increase his cost, but he is going to publish it anyway. He’s now convinced that the 63000-word version has holes in it and could not be a substitute for the original one by any means. He remarks by the way that it’s a novel that is in the end going by republished by some big international publisher, and they would then take the credit of having published it. Would anyone remember him around that time?

As I understand from his talk, he has now surrendered to your wishes completely. He has asked you to choose a font for this work. He’s ready to send you proofs as many times as you want. He’s going to carry out your order. He tells me he’ll, this time at least, see the production of a book from the side, will not stand in the way, and will learn some tricks from you. He says that he has yet to see a high- caliber literary editor like you.

Could you still be angry with such a publisher?

Thanks to augustkhalilibrahim, mark-john clifford,

SF Ali, Ricardo Yusef Medley, Arin Basu for their recommend/responses.