V. Sudarshan’s Adrift that was launched in the city recently is a true tale of hope and survival

When a diving trip off the coast of Port Blair turns into an ordeal, how do the stranded make it back? What do they go through in those dark hours? V. Sudarshan culls out the details in his narrative non-fiction Adrift – A True Story Of Survival At Sea. Launched in the city recently, the author was in conversation with novelist and filmmaker Timeri Murari.

Adrift is a retelling of an incident that Sudarshan heard about in 2007. “I knew I had to write it. It’s about six people who go to Sir Hugh Rose Island, off Port Blair in the Andamans. They are on a diving trip when suddenly, the weather turns bad. By the time they decide to turn back, they lose their bearings and the book is about what happens afterwards,” says Sudarshan, “I spent about two years just writing drafts.”

Sudarshan’s earlier book Anatomy of An Abduction: How The Indian Hostages In Iraq Were Freed was also a similar pursuit. “This form is not uncommon in the West. It’s a form of journalism that should be used more often,” says the author, who is the executive editor of The New Indian Express. “For the book, I had to make multiple trips to the islands, since a couple of my sources were fishermen who didn’t have a phone. One other person was a retired naval officer and the other two sources were French tourists.”

Initially, the people involved in the incident were unwilling to talk to him about it. “Not all of them opened up and for some, I had to change names. I got a lot of information from the Coast Guard as well,” he says. “There are no fictionalised elements in the book but I have changed the chronology to bring about more coherence.”

While Anatomy Of An Abduction is soon to be made into a film, Sudarshan hopes this book is made into a movie too. “At least then it’ll cover my flight cost to the Andamans,” he laughs, “But on a more serious note, it’s not a new genre — non-fiction narrative. I haven’t read too many books in it and it’s fairly new here. But people seem to like it.”

Adrift is available at leading bookstores for Rs.399.