Kiran Nagarkar

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Written and spoken word (film script, novel, play)
Asia, Southern and Central
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October 9, 2003
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Born in India in 1942 and now living in Mumbai, the writer Kiran Nagarkar is a leading representative of current Indian literature. He has published many novels, plays and film scripts and writes not only in Marathi, the main language of the Indian state Maharashtra, but also in English. Already with his first novel ´Saat Sakkam Trechalis´, written in Marathi and published in English in 1974 under the title ´Seven Sixes are Forty-Three´ , Nagarkar drew a lot of attention through his unusually disrespectful combination of the vernacular with the academic and through his ´nihilistic optimism´. About Nagarkar´s next works, the literary historian Renate Bürner-Kotzam writes: His ´novels and plays call for a multi-cultural and multi-religious society to be viewed in the field of tension between tradition and modernity, like the play ´Kabirache Kaya Karayache´ (1995) about the bloody clash between Hindus and Muslims in 1993, or like the novel ´Ravan & Eddie´ (1995) about the friendship between a Catholic boy and a Hindu boy in the tense microcosm of a typical Indian terraced house, each of whose storeys is tenanted by the adherents of a different religion. Nagarkar´s critique of conventional wisdom and his disrespect for a dubious tradition led to his being accused repeatedly of blasphemy and to a 17 years´ ban on his play ´Bedtime Story´ about the Indian epic ´Mahabharata´ (cited from ´Krishnas Schatten´, in: For his novel ´Cuckold´, Kiran Nagarkar received in 2000 the highest honour for Indian literature - the Sahitya Academy Award. The magazine ZEIT praised the novel for being ´a fascinating and brilliant book, a powerful epic, which enthrals the reader...´. (Gabriele Venzky, ZEIT literary supplement, 12.12.2002) ´Cuckold´ is set in the 16th century and is about the triangular relationship between a prince, a princess, Mirabai, and Krishna, to meet whom the princess leaves court and garden. Her poems to Krishna are white-hot almost erotic texts, which now have the status in India of folk poetry. Her husband, the crown prince, is a shadowy nobody. ´He just became a void, a blank; a hiatus in history´, says Nagarkar about his hero. ´This blank is filled by Nagarkar with a wonderfully ambivalent hero, who is both powerful and pensive, tender and cruel and reflective enough to let the author almost casually slip into philosophising about music, war and politics, women and men and other deep issues.´ (Katharina Granzin, in: the newspaper taz, 29.01.2003). Together with the author, the tabla-player Aneesh Pradhan and the singer Shubha Mudgal have made the tale into the live radio-drama ´Meera – Unorthodoxies´ – with Mira -songs and compositions of their own.
Author: Haus der Kulturen der Welt


God’s Little Soldier

Published Written,
HarperCollins India


Published Written,
Novel. Harper Collins India: New Delhi

Ravan & Eddie

Published Written,
Novel. Viking: New Delhi

Seven Sixes are Forty-three

Published Written,
Novel. Vikas Publ. House: New Delhi


Sahitya Akademi Award by the Sahitya Akademi, India´s National Academy of Letters for "Cuckold" (1997)


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

New Perspectives from India

(19 September 03 - 16 November 03)


Kiran Nagarkar on signandsight

"From Bombay with smog" -Kiran Nagarkar affords a lung-clogging view from Bombay (11 June 2007)