Guests Profile Events History Application
Contact / Imprint
Publications
Newsletter
Blog Other Programs
Kiran Nagarkar was born in 1942 in Bombay. In addition to theatre pieces and screenplays, he above all composed four novels which brought him the reputation as an outstanding representative of contemporary Indian literature. His books are a target of ideological critique due to the hybrid nature of his post colonialism, irreverence as well as seriousness. In this way, Nagarkar follows the spiritual heritage of his grandfather: a Brahmin, who abandoned the orthodox Hinduism of his village and argued for liberal positions in religious matters, moved into the city, married a Jew and became one of the first Indian Professors of English. After his early death, Nagarkar’s father raised the family alone and made, with great difficulty, a higher education possible for his son.
Nagarkar studied at the Ferguson College in Bombay and then worked as an assistant professor at some colleges, as a journalist and screenplay writer, and above all, in the advertising industry. He wrote his first book “Saat Sakkam Trechalis” (1974; Eng. “Seven Sixes are Forty Three”, 1980) in his mother tongue, Marathi. His bitter and burlesque description of the young Bombayite Kunshank – obtained through a fragmented form and rendered with an innovative treatment of language – is considered a milestone in Marathi literature. In his first play “Bedtime Story” (1978), Nagarkar takes on the subject of modern responsibility by broaching the topic of political crises of the time (for instance the Cuba Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the State of Emergency called for by Indira Gandhi). Due to problems with state censorship as well as religiously motivated restrictions in the cultural scene, the play was not staged until 1995. His second book “Ravan and Eddie” (1994) also received hostile reactions. The story of the childhood of two young boys, one Hindu, the other Christian, coming from families who live next door to each other yet within completely different worlds, was criticized as both anti-Hindu and anti-Christian. That Nagarakar wrote this book and his subsequent writings in English, the language of his studies, his fellow country men found likewise objectionable.
In his following novels, Nagarkar contrasts bigotry and extremism with a tolerance that is fed from doubt and open to diversity. In “Cuckold” (1997), this mentality is embodied by a character who looms in Indian historiography: It is the unknown spouse of the famous princess Meera from the 16th century, whose love songs to the God Krishna found entrance into everyday Indian culture. In “God’s Little Soldier” (2006), the protagonist, who switches his faith without ever abandoning his extremism, stands in opposition to his questioning brother. In accordance to the concept of this book as a “parable without a message” Nagarkar confirms in an interview that “we can never stop questioning ourselves, we must bring our convictions out into the light and proof them. Nothing is more dangerous than being too much oneself, being completely sure of oneself; because this belief will soon develop into an intolerance of others.”
Nagarkar was distinguished with the H.N. Apte Award for the best debut novel, the renowned Sahitya Award and the Dalmia Award “for the furtherance of communicative harmony through literature”. He received a Rockefeller grant and was given a scholarship by the city of Munich. He lives in Bombay.




Publications in English translation:

Seven Sixes are Forty Three. Translated by Shubha Slee. Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi

English language publications:

Cuckold. HarperCollins Publishers, New Delhi
Ravan & Eddie. Viking Publishing House, London, New Delhi
God’s little soldier. HarperCollins Publishers, New Delhi




Print
Guest Professors
Curating Connections
Arts & Media
Artists in Residence at PIK