Published Date : 2008
Jackie Kennedy, Sonny Pfizer, Seven Little Ayatollahs and a Suicide Pact
An Autobiographical Literary Thriller
What did Saul Bellow’s agent, Sonny Mehta, and Tim O’Brien have in common? Why was John Updike upset by an honest compliment from a starstruck author? What did Tim O’Brien read to his girl friend? What was the racket run by Norman Mailer’s superagent, and which the author found himself a part of? Discover the answers in this literary thriller and true story of literature and publishing, one that has been praised for its integrity, sense of humor, and courage.
Richard Crasta’s literary autobiography is a thriller occurring partly in India and partly in the Land of the Milk, Honey, and Bush. It is the story of a small town Indian’s quest in publishing’s world capital, New York, and is in parts Tragedy, Comedy, and a Who’s Who of the Literary Universe,
- What was the competition between John Updike and Norman Mailer about?
- John Updike was described in Richard Crasta’s most widely published novel as the Poet of What?
- What were the orchids on the paperback version of the UK edition of The Revised Kama Sutra supposed to represent?
- Which former lover of Saul Bellow said the fastest yes in the West? And to whom, and why?
And also: Why did an Indian author and father of three young children, who had been praised, sometimes exuberantly, by more than forty-five critics and well-known writers worldwide (including Kurt Vonnegut and Tim O’Brien, National Book Award winner), who had been televised in three different countries, agree to a suicide pact, and with whom? Why did a former member of the powerful Indian Administrative Service and author of a book that had been famous in India (and has been published, to date, in ten countries and in seven languages) and that has been published twice in the U.K., have to go to such lengths to survive?
And how did he find himself in the same room with Jackie Kennedy, standing ten feet away, and what was he thinking? Who were the other famous or powerful people he met along the way, and what was their role in his story? What does this mean, and what are the lessons and truths to be learned? What has the System to do with this, and what is its agenda?
The answer is so complex, it is so interwoven with subjects such as dreams, obsessions, passions, literature, race, power, feminism, lust, publishing, and fatherhood, India and America that it cannot be told in a few paragraphs. It took fourteen years for Richard Crasta to live and write his answer to these questions.
[Thank you for giving] a mind-blowing erotic education to this sexual hick . . . [Is it really true that you] spent about two pages on a great description of [young cats]?—Author, writing to John Updike.
I dashed up to [Pope of the Male Universe Robert Bly] and said something like Psst, want to see some real-man fiction—the story of Iron Vijay? Then I passed him the standard brown envelope with three testosterone-drenched chapters and said, “Read it, please,” in my best “I have no Hunter Daddy” voice.
I met Harriet at her cramped, but well-appointed office, elegant bookshelves filled with the books of the big boys (and not a single lightweight in sight). She talked to me about film rights, discussed some of the actors who might be in a movie of the book, chatted about her friendship with Ismail Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabwala, told me her commission would be ten percent. And when I mentioned some of John Irving’s suggestions on improving my novel, such as shifting to a third person narrator, she said, with quiet confidence, “You can teach John Irving a few things.”
A wild overstatement, but what more could a writer ask for? Really speaking, John Irving was leagues ahead of me in a dozen different fields including wrestling, but if I had had a fraction of Harriet’s confidence and hubris—while being cunning enough never to put it down on paper, to seem perpetually astonished, humble, and self-deflating—I would be in much better shape today.
I am still reading your book and doing so in installments as I want to absorb it. Besides, I’m enjoying it in such a way that I want my joy to stick to me. You are funny and delightful . . . and nowhere are you too heavy to carry. I’ve never read anyone like you. I laugh, I ache, I smile, I cry – but never close the book without that smile surfacing.–Sheelagh Grenon, Canada
Its a book that touches your innermost soul – with all its raw emotions, desires, pain, anguish and a feeling of injustice that any Indian author can experience at the world’s publishing capital – New York. Its not a book – its an act of bravery, its a kick in the pants of the publishing lords and its an eye-opener for anyone who is awed by the glitter of the modern day institutions of the world, be it publishing world or another. Reading this book was a very different experience for me since I laughed, I cried, I was pained, I felt angry, I was shocked… but I smiled nevertheless and thanked the author many times in my heart for such an open and honest writing, for such a courageous book and ofcourse for such a gift of words that he has. Richard knows how to weave a magic with his words and always maintains a wonderful sense of humour in his books.
Its a book that is not to be missed and its not a surprise that it had to be self-published by the noted author. Who else would dare publish such a courageous book after all? –Asheesh