Open Minds 2017: Soft Power

Vivek Shanbhag, Author

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Intimate Protest

Vivek Shanbhag is a well-known author in Kannada, with five short story collections, two plays and three novels, including Ooru Bhanga (‘Hometown Breaks’), to his name. Shanbhag, who grew up in a small town in Karnataka before joining the corporate workforce, has always used the immediate and familiar for inspiration. His canvas is not what is distant or exotic, but rather what is here and now.

In the last 25 years in our country, we have seen a significant change because of globalisation and new opportunities; it is very difficult to say whether these have been good or bad. I am not saying that in the book. I am simply saying this is what happened

Shanbhag’s English-language debut Ghachar Ghochar (recently translated by Srinath Perur) has balled over readers. In this novella, Shanbhag humanises a cumbersome topic like globalisation. He gently teases out the effects of prosperity on a family. How does wealth affect the dynamics of relationships? What is our connection to work, and ambition? And do we control wealth or does wealth control us? The splendour of the book is that it explores these questions without judgement or morality. With the book releasing in the US and UK markets earlier this year, Ghachar Ghochar is creating a legion of fans in India and abroad. It has already been hailed as The Great Indian Novel—and deservedly so.

(For the complete list of power of argument in 50 portraits click here)