Raam Reddy describes his first novel as a shot at magic realism
On rickshaw rides from Malka Ganj to St. Stephen’s College in Delhi, Raam Reddy was struck by the daily violence he saw in the area. After his sheltered life in Bangalore – he studied in the Mallya Aditi International School – the move to Delhi seemed to him an important encounter with the “outside world”. Raam calls Malka Ganj a “primal” place, one that showed him “the underbelly of society”. “These were people who didn’t understand what harmony could be like,” he said.
The coming-of-age process that he went through in Delhi, informed his debut novel, It’s Raining In Maya, which was launched recently at the PageTurners bookstore in the city. The tale follows young Aditi through her journey away from innocence; this paralleled his own journey to adulthood.
At the launch, Raam and Tara Kini, his teacher and a musician, read out sections of the book. Some initial, atmospheric passages set up the geography of Maya, the fictional town where the story is set (it isn’t meant to remind readers of R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi, despite the alliteration, Raam clarified later).
The writer spends the first few sections detailing various aspects of the “fabric” of the society. Maya, from Raam’s writing, might be any town, with its cattle – jostling for space among pedestrians on the roads – and its gossiping locals. Perhaps the problem with book readings is that an essential joy of reading is taken away: the pleasure of inventing the narrator’s voice in our heads as we read – a creative, active process. From the sections read out, one could infer that Raam doesn’t shy away from concepts like mysticism and spirituality, nor from the all-knowing narrator’s voice. It’s Raining In Maya also evidently promises strong imagery, as well as a fable-style tale.
The book is self-published, and carries a ‘magic realism’ genre categorisation; indeed, Raam is influenced by Murakami, Marquez and Calvino, he said. Raam studied economics in college, and has had stints in photography and filmmaking; he is also a poet. Why, then, didn’t he write a book of poetry? For Raam, it was a conscious recognition of the fact that the “market for poetry” wasn’t very well-established. The direct storytelling offered in fiction would be a better way to start. And why did he take the decision to tell the story from a little girl’s perspective, and not a boy? The inventive demands of switching the character’s gender excited him.
The book can be ordered either as an e-book or in paperback from Amazon. It is also available at bookstores.