Wonderful romance! Great story! Good description of India. I learned very much. What is more important in love : sex or love ? Tarun describes love. We need physical love. Itís human instinct. It may be destructive. Itís the passion. But youíve found the real love when you have found the good person. Then itís spiritual. This story shows what is love and finally, we have the response.
Liliane from France
Good day Mr.Tarun, I am reading your brilliant novel ďthe alchemy f desireĒ ........ I donít know how could I explain my feelings, I felt like you are talking about my dreams. You have depicted the true life of people who are passionate about their life. It is my life. It is the life of all who knows how to love. Very true to life. A memorable novel. My hearty congrats for your brilliance.
I've just started reading Alchemy of Desire.
The book portrays true picture of today's Indian society through narrator's experiences...apart from the sensual aspects of story that everyone is talking about!!
Though I haven't yet finished reading it but, already, there had come so many serious issues (working environment in corporate, insignificant innocence of villagers and tribals and degrading environment around us..to name a few) through narrator's stories that, I think, every concerned and sensitive citizen thinks about and could not happen to talk aloud. Plus the way in which story beads all these issues so beautifully with personal pleasures of narrator. So distinct yet so true aspects of someone's life in such a society. I can not imagine anyone putting views about society so well in a story so personal :) .
Finished reading 'The Alchemy of Desire'. Where in the world were you with this wonderful literary masterpiece all these years my good man ? I must admit what O.V Vijayan said of you to me is truer than truth it self...'Tarun will refine himself to be a master storyteller, though I may not live enough to see that'. Very very true.... All the best and we wait for wonderful, watershed works to come from you.
Liverpool, United Kingdom
I happened to read "Alchemy of desire" by chance. I saw the book in a book store and was drawn to it. I had bought it on an impulse and none of my impulsive actions have ever been quite as intriguing as reading this book. It was beautiful. I loved the details, the narration and the mesmerizing characters. You've written a great book, words of appreciation are inadequate and might make it seem hollow. Hope you write more wonderful books and can't wait to read your next one.
I read the The Alchemy of Desire after my boyfriend told me it was the most sensual book he had ever read. I loved your book, but most of all I loved your write style. This was just wonderful.
After I finished my reading, my boyfriend and I had a great debate about the relationship between the narrator and Catherine. Our main question was to know why Catherine appeared in the narrator's life, finally. What was her impact on him, beyond sexual power. My opinion is that Catherine's diaries made him understand that the way he wanted to write was not the appropriate way. Catherine's diaries are written as if they were not literature, as if nobody would never read them. They are true, genuine, whereas the narrator wants to write a major piece of literature, he despised the "small" writers writing non important books. And yet, he was completely captivated by the diaries, he even forgot his desire for Fizz, whereas he was unable to finish his own work. So I understood that Catherine led him to another kind of literature, the one which, 100 years after, still attracts readers, the one which is true enough to live forever. And finally, being able to write was his major issue.
I just wanted to share my interpretation with you. I admire a lot the work you accomplish, I am a journalist myself (actually just an intern right now, but I am working to become a "real" one), and a great defender of press freedom. I had an internship at Reporters Without Borders in Paris, at the Africa desk.
I wish you all the best and I give you all my support for Tehelka. May you be heard everywhere.
a journalist in Paris.
I'll continue in English...For now almost 3 years I couldn't read a novel... since I was really involved to read only The Mother and Sri Aurobindo's philosophy... and for me it was impossible to read something else, something which can really open mind and soul in that way, in such a powerful way. And during my holidays - finished today- I was looking for something lighter if I dare to say.... but I didn't want to read any French or European writer much more materialistic for me, too "mental" and I discover "Loin de Chandigarh" (Alchemy of Desire - by the way I don't understand why the title change only in French ?) - and your book surprised me so much, ravish me - Only one marvelous universal novel make me feel the same "cien anos de soledad" of Garcia Marquez,... i'm almost captured, I can't leave the book away, always thinking about it... prisoner of a book ... - The french translation is absolutely fantastic, nothing to say - rhythm, colourful, beautiful like your country which I really love.
I really thank you for those marvelous moments as Arundhati Roy whose book "the God of small things" enchanted me as well - I don't believe in hazard and it was a perfect discovery for me to "meet" your novel.... give me back the taste to read - by the way I really like your "neologism" "Ego-watchers"- perfectly found
I am a serious book reader and I must confess that the joy I got after reading Alchemy of Desire was unparalleled. It is a master-piece in sheer depth of understanding of emotions and then to narrate that in such a style, in a language that can seem so beautiful, just filled me with sheer pure joy - and I just loved the first and last sentence of the book. I searched to find out if you have written any novel other than ‘Alchemy’ and realize that you haven’t (at least couldn’t find a reference on the internet). I and a very good friend of mine, both read ‘Alchemy..’ together - we live in two separate cities and bought it at the same time, read it over a period of 6-7 days and were continuously discussing it. We just loved your book and loved the whole experience of reading and sharing our thoughts together.
We want to repeat that experience with your next book. And it has to be Tarun Tejpal’s book, else we won’t do that. So, please tell me if your next book is on the way. At some level though it seems very silly to strive to re-create a beautiful experience, but humans are humans and there is a sense of greed in our heart wanting to repeat the same experience - and we need your next book to achieve that.
I have just finished reading The Alchemy of Desire... It was fantastic!
Waiting for your next book!
I send you this mail to tell you that I have read your last book The alchemy of desire and this is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. After I had read it I recommended it to all the many people around me, as I wanted to share with everyone that i could.
While I was reading it, I underlined many passages, as I recognized so many things in your way of talking about love. I totally agree with you, love and sexuality are tremendous forces and energies and the most subversive tool against official power and government. I am absolutely convinced that if all human beings in the world were sexually happy, then, all the wars and horrors would disappear.
Thanks a lot anyway for having written a book, which, to me, without doubt is a true masterpiece. Best regards from a french female writer.
I lack words to thank you for your master piece "The Alchemy of Desire". I finished reading the book last night and couldn't simply sleep as I was totally engrossed in the story. I borrowed the book from a library and now, till I don't buy it for myself, I won't get peace and won't return it to the library either. I simply need it with me always. I am a voracious reader but nothing has touched me like this ever before. I am literally very very sad that I have finished reading it. I wish I had never come out of that world. Not only did I read it but I could feel the mysterious world of desire around me from which, till now, I have not been able to come out and I don't wish too also.
I am spellbound and I don't have the vocabulary to express my thanks and my feelings.
Thank you once again and please keep us alive with your generous work.
Till then good bye and good luck.
Waiting for your next master piece.
( A true admirer of yours )
My name is Marcin and I am from Poland. I have just finished reading your book “The Alchemy of Desire”.
I’d like to thank you for giving me a chance to have a journey through India and Indian people’s life. Because reading your book was like traveling across all that places together with Fizz, Catherine and others.
To be honest - first 80 pages was difficult to read but after that I was sucked in by the story.
I’d like to ask you a question – Did you know why the hero of the story has lost his desire to Fizz when you started the story? I mean – Did you have in your mind the Catherine’s diary on the beginning?
I remain with best regards and hope to read your next book soon,
This is one of the best books I have ever read. As a student of Yoga I found new meaning in the Sutras and the Gita. Living according to the Yamas and Niyamas becomes the beauty of language.
Thank you for the gift.
Trust this e-mail finds you well.
I read your book from cover to cover and was greatly impressed by it. Your careful handling of prose paints some wonderful imagery and is beautiful in its expressive style. In making every attempt to use a language native to the human train of thought, I believe that every one of your readers will find themselves in this story. Thank you for taking us to a new world where there is originality in thought and honesty in expression.
I wish you all the best and trust that you will continue to write in the language of the heart, mind, body and soul.
I feel like I am also in love with Fizz. This masterpiece couldn't have been possible without Fizz. You have given "sex" a new sensual dimension. It has been earlier thought that there are only a very few (clumsy) ways to narrate this wonderful act but you have presented it so gracefully - different and beautiful each time, from page to page.
I find the narrator too self centered, more and more inclined to war within himself.
"Sex is not the greatest glue between two people. Love…"
You have mentioned on the last pages that one has to live ones story and then only can one write it. Could I ask you, say if Fizz doesn't turn back, even then would it be possible for the narrator to tell his story?
I have just finished reading your book. I just wated to say thank you for this beautiful story.
I have just this minute finished reading your novel; I am struggling to find words to map the length and breadth of my experience of your brilliant story.
"wow" is the word I am reduced to !!!
I was brought up to write much more formal acknowledgements than this !
I hope the world is fortunate enough to see more of your prose.
Got to read your ‘Alchemy of Desire’. You explained me the true meaning & relevance of Gita & Mahabharat in just one page (The section just before introduction of Bibi Lahori) May be that’s why they say that those most important things in life are the most simplest ones.
I just finished reading The Alchemy of desire two days ago. SIMPLY FANTASTIC! It's the most amazing book I've read in a long long time. The language you've used is beautiful. It was un putdown able. I am usually a slow reader primarily because of a busy schedule at work, but this book just caught my attention and I found myself carrying it wherever I went and staying up nights reading it.
What I loved most was the way you've brought out the physical love between the narrator and Fizz in such a beautiful and spiritual way. It's quite philosophical in its own way too. Lot of stuff from Tantra too. Truly one of the ways to the heightened spiritual awakening is through sexual experiences. Lot of truths in it which we humans need to remember, like the one on possessiveness and love.
I am also a freelance journalist in Bangalore and write occasionally for the Week magazine and The Hindu. It inspired me to start the story which has been in my head for the last so many years and never actually materialized on paper.
Waiting for your next work!
Your novel is one of the rare (in fact , one and only one, which I have read) books that I have found in which (physical) love is expressed in a most refined and adorable way. Whenever I read such novels, (even Cohelo's Eleven Minutes felt disgusting, though his aim was to convey the sacredness of physical relationships) I never felt any genuine sacredness or a kind of respect towards the act. But the way you have described it, is really wonderful. When I thought of the reason, what I felt is one could sense a kind of affection, a childlike simplicity in the behaviour of both the narrator and Fizz. That gives a sort of purity and charm to their relationship which makes it enviable. It was superb.
The only minus point I felt was the occasional digressions to other stories which I felt was not really needed. If the story continued to flow with the mainstream it would have been really unputdownable. Just my opinion.
You really have the ability (more than ability, I feel, you have the purity of heart which of course reflects in your writings) that can enable you to write more novels with everlasting charm. (You novel reminded me of Tagore except that Tagore sublimated his feelings in a romantic way without entering into physical aspects).
BTW, I am just a voracious reader interested in philosophy, spirituality, astrology etc (I have read many Tantric books including Robert Swaboda's books on Left Hand and Right Hand Tantra). Your descriptions reminded me of the experiences explained in Left Hand Tantra. Hence i just asked because I really wished if you had any such spiritual awakening, I would get some details from you regarding the experience. I do not mean the left hand way of experience, but the satwik marg. Because when people have such experiences, their creativity is greatly enhanced. And your novel seemed to be the consequence of one such experience. I know very few people who had a real spiritual awakening. So asked.
Wishing you all the best
Expecting more novels from you ..
Read your book, flat out from 5pm, Saturday till 11.30pm, Sunday.
It's outstanding, and in comparison Maugham's 'Of Human Bondage' appears corny. Feel happy, as here there is a fiction of quality, that is rooted in our lives and context. Related to the book even more, as for the last three years I have been doing the car trips from Delhi to Ranikhet, where a villa is finally ready.
Was born in the Kumaon hills, and currently live in Bombay -- I am a management advisor to many medium and large companies. Your book helped me unwind, as I sent the final draft of a strategy book (about the firstever in India) to Penguin, last week. Thanks.
I just read your book. Your narrative style is simply superb. Did you have any spiritual awakening before you wrote that novel? Some where while reading I felt so. Just a doubt.
I just finished reading The Alchemy of Desire.
It deeply moved me. As a journalist -and aspiring author- it helps me finding my own story.
Thank you from Montreal.
Anne Marie Lecomte
Just to say that I was totally blown away by your novel. It is a refreshing change from contemporary western literature and goes places where lesser writers could not aspire to tread. After reading it, I had to leave a gap between it and the next book I read because the latter was likely going to seem bland in comparison. I have asked for Epinions.com to put it on their site so that I can review it and, more importantly so that it can get more exposure in the States and, with luck, inspire more readers to give it a try.
Kind regards (and when is the next novel due?!)
We've never met. I am no literary authority, but I just finished reading "The Alchemy Of Desire", and I think its the greatest book to have come out of India. It has just displaced "The God Of Small Things" from that position in my esteem.
The work you're doing with Tehelka, of course, is the greatest thing to come out of India in that department.
More and more power to your pen.
As an aspiring writer, the first feeling that gripped me after I got past the first page of your book was severe literary jealousy. As a voracious reader, I am in awe. I am utterly and completely overwhelmed. Never have I read words so beautifully shaped. A story so gloriously told. Desire so masterfully written.With such honesty; astounding honesty. Your novel made me fall back in love with life at a time when I was falling out of love with it. For that, I want to thank you.
I had bought The Alchemy of Desire when it released. Out of curiosity, and well, a sense of 'loyalty'. Because I wanted to know what a novel by you would read like; and for similar reasons I had subscribed to Tehelka before it launched (I still have its first issue).
I'd spoken with you a couple of times when I was at L'Officiel magazine and then when Tehelka came out. Your paper had also carried one of my essays. I was a features writer then; now, a freelance copy editor for Penguin.
So a year too late after the release of your book, I am writing to you about it. Only because I pulled it out of my pile of unread books two days ago and didn't put it down until now. This isn't a review or feedback that I'm sending you—I'm sure you've received plenty of that from significant people and publications.
I had to write to you because I am just so moved by The Alchemy of Desire. So deeply moved. The lump in my throat formed on the second-last page: "She said she is fine and she'll be here in a few days." And I had to stop for a few minutes before I read the last page, and then, "Sex is not the greatest glue between two people. Love…" just did it for me.
I began enjoying the book for personal reasons. That the protagonist is a writer, tries to deal with a writer's block, finds his confidence dwindling, takes up a sub editor's job because he doesn't want to report any more (among other reasons)—is all completely identifiable. I've been editing because I can't bear to write another article and also because I immensely enjoy it; and am grappling with fiction writing (the little that I'm attempting to do). And wondering if a story really 'comes sailing' to writers one day or the 'discipline' and writing 500 words a day does help, even if it's crap. (Though neither is happening with me right now.) But it was quite bizarre, when I read he takes up a job as a sub. I thought, okay, there is someone out there who feels like me—so what if in a book!
Then, I continued to be immersed in the book obviously because of its mysterious flavour—I'm a sucker for mystifying, and love, stories—and wished the parts that dragged would get over quickly. But soon read slowly, because I didn't want the book to end. I'm really sad it has ended. I want to dive into it again, its richness, its setting (such a relief from the overdose of Bong culture in Indian writing; plus I'm a complete mountain-person), the locations I know; its feeling, the love, their connection, their conversations…. And I was hoping the end wouldn't be a cliché, wouldn't be a let-down after all the richness and history and emotion. And it wasn't. Some authors do that you know, take you through such a roller-coaster ride, only to end it abruptly in a banal way, making the reader feel cheated.
Also, you revealed nuances of the story in the most extraordinary ways…even details like Fizz getting hooked to CNN—or did I read too much into that?! Needless to say, the book has such a profound effect because you didn't spell out anything. Subtly, cleverly crafted story. So that now long after I've finished it, everything is coming back, without reading it a second time yet. Every action of theirs had a meaning and a connection. Amazing.
But I have to ask: The part in the end, about finding your story, writing your story—that's Tarun Tejpal saying it (anyone who has read it knows there's so many of your experiences in the book)? But do you believe that only when we've had really meaningful/rich/sorrowful/exciting experiences in life, can we write a good story?
Good luck with everything, Tarun.
The Alchemy of Desire has left me enamoured. It is simply beautiful. For me, an aspiring writer and a student of media studies, this book has given me perspective in many ways. I love your take on love, sex, on the nation and everything else. Someday I'd really like to go see the mountains that you so fondly described. I can't wait for you to bring out your next book.
Dear Tarun - I just wanted to say that I am midway through your book - and am finding it unputdownable...and that many of the people at the writers meet and greet party tonight were disappointed you wont be there. Best of luck with all that's on your plate. Regards,
I am an avid reader and reviewer of books from Karachi. I have just recently finished reading the Alchemy of Desire, and am still completely enthralled by it. Since reading the book, I am consumed by a desire to visit India, the India you write about so compellingly, Chandigarh, Delhi, but most especially the lower Himalayas.
I am an avid reader and try to read as much contemporary fiction from South Asia as I can lay my hands on. I found your book in a bookstore in Karachi recently, and was instantly mesmerized, and although I have my reservations about many of Naipaul’s opinions, I cannot help but echo his quote about your novel.
It absolutely is a brilliant novel, but I have this niggling issue with the Catherine novella inserted in the middle- it seems to be the only part of the book that does not ring true, to my ears at least. I felt Catherine’s appeal more intensely seen through the eyes of the main character, by telling us her story in her words, some of the mystery and some of the appeal was erased.
That said, I would like to thank you for providing a truly memorable reading experience! I hope you are working on a second novel. Best Regards,
Just finished reading you and already am on the web, trying to find you, to tell you how much I loved your book. The Alchemy is not only a desire land's trip but also a great novel about India. Reading you, every sense seems to awaken together, and it's a great feeling in the french winter. Searching on the web, I learned that you're also an engaged journalist in your country, the world is missing people like you.
For all of that : THANK YOU.
I just finished reading "The Alchemy of Desire" early today morning. I just did not have the heart to put it down from the moment I picked it up. Although, I read the book in breaks, whenever I came back into the book, it felt like I was transported to another world. I am still amazed at some of the most graphic and vivid descriptions of such an abstract feeling like desire. Infact, I must say when I was reading the book, it was almost as if you had put my world view on print. I must thank you profusely, for writing an absolute master master masterpiece of a book. Every page is worth worshipping !! . I first went to pick up the book just for the title, and I knew that my instincts were right.
Someday as a tribute to you, and the book, I would like to make a movie on this book with your permission (legal and otherwise). I am sure you would have thought of that idea already, but if someone has not already done it by the time I have the resources and I have finally made up my mind to make movies, I would definitely love to make this one as my first. I will not care what anyone thinks of it (box office & critics), except you. If the movie transforms your interpretation of desire onto celluloid and you like it, I will say that I have made a good movie. It's your opinion that matters. As a matter of fact, I have also decided on who will play the lead roles too :-)
Anyway, enough of boring you with this mail. I am sure this is one of the million mails you must have gotten in the the last few years. Thanks once again, for giving me hope about love and passion, THANKS VERY MUCH.
I have been a great fan of your writings since my school days. I am a voracious reader and I must say that I have not read more profound, cerebral and stylish pieces of non-fiction writing than the essays that you wrote in India Today. All these years I often wondered why you were not writing a novel, but I knew that if ever you wrote one it would be as radically different as your journalistic writings are. The Alchemy of Desire which reminds me of one of your profound pieces in India Today –Eros On Ice (if I remember the title) correctly-- has proved that my faith was not misplaced. What a terrific work of fiction it is! No book has ever made me laugh, brood, get aroused, reflect, introspect and be inspired as The Alchemy of Desire did. In fact, it did to me what the very best literary works can do to a human being. The Alchemy of Desire stands out for its sublime prose, its stimulating ideas and philosophy of life. The books is a brilliant reflection on love, life and the complexity of human nature. I have not read such a searing book in Indian Writing in English. It’s a classic. I will never, ever forget Fizz. I have not met a woman so beautiful, so loving, so passionate, so vivacious, so graceful, so decent, so understanding, so...
I just finished the Alchemy of Desire and I want to tell you of the jubilation, the gourmandism, the great laughing, the deep emotion, the erotism, the love for human beings, the extreme joy, in a word, that I felt across the long but too short trip with your characters. I am French which is a minor disease compare to my addiction to India, its people, its culture and of course its literature. You join on my book shelf for my enjoyment some of your colleagues.
Just finished reading your book. Oh wow, its amazing. I had expected it to be a slow read...somewhat an image that it would be a serious read...but it turned out a non-stop affair. Since I was in delhi for a couple of years and I did my first so called internship in your office, I was real curious to read your book. But actually couldn't for a while, as I have recently migrated to the US for my post grads. But when I started to read your book three days back, I fell completely in love with it. well, I have a general tendency to throw books away once I have read them - the last one being For matrimonial purposes by Kavita Deswami. But your book I guess will stay on my bookshelf forever...its one of those books one would like to just open after a year and scan through again, living it over and over. I hope your next novel comes soon. till that time, I will have to just content myself with your articles on Goggle and tehelka.
I am absolutely loving your book. It is a beautiful piece of art.
Please keep up the good work.
I just put down your book Alchemy of Desire after a (nearly) non-stop reading since I started. I was apprehensive about reading it in the first place. I associated your name with Tehelka and the political scandal that your paper helped bring into light. But I am glad I did. Let me congratulate you on the book. A superbly written piece and for someone who spent some time in Delhi about the same time, I can see the Dhabas, the locked Delhi colony gates etc in front of my eyes. Thanks for also writing about the hypocrisies that we are usually fed by everyone from our birth to death. Thanks also for being open about your feelings towards a woman and the honesty displayed. That for me was the hallmark of your writing. A man who cannot be honest to his woman cannot be to anyone, including himself. Should you choose to never write another book again, no worries, this one will suffice. Finally, I shan’t add to the improbably long list of your supporters on the political scandal. I wonder if the goodness and honesty of the average Indian will ever be allowed to prevail. It saddens me to see the Indian mind’s inability to resolutely defend itself against corruption, arrogance and lack of discipline despite its other brilliant qualities (albeit of an academic nature). Thanks Mr. Tejpal for bringing us that bit closer to the truth in your works via the book and of course Tehelka. If one were to believe in God’s will, truth will prevail. Someday.
Murli Bhamidipati, Austria
I started the book....and i cannot stop. this hasn't happened since
"Gone With the Wind." ( when i was in 12th grade.)
Have been meaning to write to you for some time about your book! Let me say I was totally unprepared for the awesome ride!!!!!
There are so many things in that book that will stay with me for a long time...little things that just stick!! I might even be guilty of plagiarising some of it in subsequent conversations with people!!! The language, the ideas, the characters, the emotions, the setting...man I was blown away!!!
I was given the impression that the book was in many ways autobiographical, but that's cool isn't it??!! In fact what book isn't in some way or the other autobiographical...and man this is how I'd want my autobiography to be!!!!
One of the things that I love about the book is that it is so visually written that I can actually see the story unfolding...it draws you in, and given that I work with a visual medium that characteristic of the book makes it twice as enjoyable!!
Most of all I love how the story comes full circle but with a shift in perspective ...loved the way you started and then ended the story!!! The last line was a clincher!!! It took me so much by surprise and yet was so obviously perfect that I had a smile on my face for hours after finishing the book!!!
I did miss one thing though. I would have loved to get inside Fizz's head, but I guess that will have to be another book in itself!!
Sorry about all the exclamations but I'm so kicked about the book!!!!!!
Best of luck raking in all the awards and the accolades and the moolah!!!!
PS : Had some bizarre and amusing dreams soon after finishing the book!!
Don't know if the book was responsible but the timing was perfect!! I'll
spare you the details but that's just a measure of how much the book got to me!!!!!
When Outlook would get delivered to my door, I would first read your article(s).
I wish you would publish a book of your collected articles and essays so people like me don't have to scan some 4,500 pages of Goggle for your work.
I read Alchemy on the train to Bombay by torch-light (cradled in the crook of my neck), and suffered a sprained neck through my brother's engagement. It was worth it.
You cannot possibly doubt Alchemy's longevity! This one will stand tall even when the ice age has come and gone. I know for sure that the image of Bibi Lahori, breasts bound,
her foot on the bed , jewelry pouch in hand, looking at herself in the mirror, is burnt into my memory, forever.Many times while reading Indian authors writing in English it feels like you're surreptiously reading letters addressed to someone else. Never with you.
There's never any bullshit. Never any artifice. The Alchemy of Desire is nestled comfortably on my book shelf between Women in Love and Lady Chatterley's Lover.
Thank you. Mumbai deluged inspired my own Alchemy - my story - on my own Brother computer. But can't match your passion. Your book was unputdownable.
I just finished the last few pages of your book at 6 this morning. I had been reading it almost non-stop except for when I had to be in office and at work. I have never read anything like it ever. The sex in the initial pages kept me going, but what you have done to the story later is beautiful. I have never read such a fat book with such obsession. Many things are wonderful about the book: the brilliant cameos of the Sardarji truck driver, cleaner, Bibi, Catherine's most unique way of bonding with her father, description of the drives to Gethia and the twists and turns in the story, Fiza, the sideways references to the political rot and the most consummate way in which you tie it all up together. Thank you so much and I must say the book was worth every rupee I paid for it. I do hope you write more books that are as raw and gut wrenching as your last one.
Sunil Bannur, Bangalore
“What a trip, what a flight, what a lift! Thank you Alchemist, may your ship come in…”
“What a terrific book you have begotten! It is stunning. Move over Lawrence.”
“Simply superb. In line for this year's Booker and more, provided someone explains to those mother-fuckers what madarchod means… When are you coming next to Trivandrum?
I need to get my copy autographed by the author. Sell Tehelka. Write more books.”
“Loved the book! A bit of all our lives between the sheets! Congrats.”
“Just completed the book. You are a brilliant writer. Some parts took longer to comprehend as I haven’t read anything like your story. What a masterpiece…”
“Aroon thinks you should win the Booker prize! Just read the last line. Couldn’t wait… Just for that you should win!”
Not only should you get the Nobel for Literature but also all the awards and appreciation for analysing and representing the male psyche in superb language. Your book is going to stay on the face of the earth till the human male species changes completely, like starts giving birth to children.
“Just finished Alchemy. Great stuff. Gripped from the start. Great story. Great writing.”
“Reading the Alchemy of Desire – thank you for this amazing piece of literature”
Been meaning to drop a line but was traveling .... Cambodia etc etc.. Took your book along with me. Have finished reading it and reading it again... It rings so TRUE.....
Congratulations on The Alchemy of Desire. The book is an outstanding literary contribution and ranks at par with the works of DH Lawrence in its understanding of human relationships.
I am writing this on a plane from Toronto to Denver, but am mentally traversing different routes..... you've ensured that I have not got any, and much needed, sleep on the last 4 flights. Frankfurt - Portland – San Francisco - Calgary - Toronto and, as we are set to land in Denver with the mountains coming up on the left, I've reached the beginning of Satya. Even when I put the book down the mind is far too active to get any sleep... Besides the nostalgia, I really do like the book and think it is an immense read. You seem to be a "bloke" and someone whose basic concepts of life I can fully empathise with. The next trip I make home, I will go to Nainital via Bhowali and see "First Things" for myself. I think I know the cottage but need to get there again to get it exactly right. And if you happen be in and have the time, it will be a windfall and I'm sure we will have lots to talk about - over Malt whisky which I shall carry.Till then, Daju, from the Rocky Mountain State, here's wishing you, Alchemy and Tehelka all the best.
Tarun, fascinating book man! Just on to the last section. Has made my holiday come alive. Was in Goa where your book made me say fuck to the beaches and sit down and read. I consider it a significant moment in Indian literature. Be it in converting the banal into the sublime or the sublime into the ethereal, you have succeeded immensely. It was worth the wait. Found myself laughing like a mad man in my room after reading the gearshift lines and the Mallu caricature. At times, magical, at times sheer sublimity. The prose too is just divine and reminded me of Marquez as Paul Zacharia said and which I didn’t believe when I read the review. I asked for the book as gift for my birthday. What a wonderful gift it has been. You need to come home and autograph it for me and in return I shall hug you and give you some beef fried with coconut slices thrown in. cheers!
Binoo K John
Tarun, since I sent you the mail last time I finished reading the last chapter and I have been in a daze these last few days in Kerala. After that Suketu Mehtas book which I brought along on my holiday cum working trip, seemed so trite.Desire has broken new ground without any doubt. The first rankers of Indian writing Seth, Ghosh and Pankaj, will have to pause a while and ponder. Desire has pushed them all to the sides I believe. in its vaulting ambition, in its turning around of English usage, in the grand swathe that it cuts (which you could have curtailed a bit), in its endearing candour, in its enthralling prose which throughout the book shows a rightful disdain for the middle ground and proudly occupies the high ground, in its understanding of life, in the partaking of larger philosophies, in going where angels feared to tread, in all that it is a landmark work. I forced becky to keep aside the other books and read this. She is half way through and shares my view. You should not get worried about reviews. part of the game. it is difficult for a journalist's book to get good reviews. I want to write a substantial piece on the book, warts and all. But it is best that it waits for a few more months, maybe if it gets into the booker long list at least. In any case, I have started writing my second book for penguin after the great critical success and moderate sales success of my Cherrapunji travelogue.
Binoo K John
“Went back and leisurely re-read the last fifty pages. Never been on such an emotional roller coaster. Thanks for giving me such a great time. May your efforts continue to be touched by magic.”
You lied to me. You said "Alchemy" was literary fiction. "Alchemy" is a force of nature, what I call wordwood...that's when one writer reads another writer's book and gets a metaphorical hard-on. Usually, when I come across something this good, I just go into hiding and don't surface until I've finished the symphony. But because I'm trying to make the most of the little time I have in Nepal, I've only read 100 pages or so. But DAMN, Tarun, you seduce the reader on every page ...reminds me of the story about Nabokov granting a rare interview in his twilight years...up in his aerie on the top floor of the Montreux Palace overlooking Lac Leman... and the journalist asked him, "What do you see as the future of fiction?" Nabokov answered, "Looks pretty good from up here." That's where this book is, dude, soaring above the competition.”
“Stunning and deeply moving, maestro. On page 272. Swept by wonder. I’m savouring it slowly.”
“Just finished reading Alchemy… what a masterpiece… hope you live another story so you can write it.
“I am reading Alchemy. It’s a fabulous, stunning piece of work. Even better in the second read. I feel humbled.”
“Just finished reading Alchemy. Feel as if have opened my eyes after a deep meditation. Everything around appears clearer and I feel like dancing like a dervish.”
“You tell quite a story and so bloody well. Just finished Alchemy. Letting the benign ghosts settle with a glass of beer. Cheers and more sounds of applause to you.”
“Finished. Have not read anything like this in a long, long time.”
“Just bought your book. It’s a hit. It grabs you.”
“Just finished the book. You were born to write so just do that from now on.”
“I finished the book. I feel sad that it is over. Write another one. It is the most beautiful book I have ever read.”
“I just finished reading the book. Why did the book have to end?! Now that the book is over, feels like a part of me has died… How did you write all that you did?! I don’t think I’ll be able to forget the book and all that I went through while reading it for a long, long time. LOVED it. Have probably never been as engaged and involved in a book. It is a masterpiece. Thank you for the book!”
“Parveen’s mom thinks your writing is the best among Indian writing in English for ever”
“I so much wish to tell you that this writing and this style of yours bring this very special inner euphoria in me which is the sign of how much I recognize a member of my literary family and how much I am touched – like a secret accomplice - by your literature. The subjects, the context, the topology on all levels of India, the lyricism, the beautifully mastered lyricism of your writing, the “canto” in your style and so many other reasons often make me come out of my silent reading to start reading out loud to my wife a passage, and then another one of the Alchemy; actually, it’s a book I read out loud in my mind and which ought to be read in public…”
“Tarun, I have a house guest who teaches International Relations at the University of Mexico and is one of the smartest people I know. I gave him your book at 1.00 am last night because I really wanted to know what he thought. He's just come in to the office, having slept three hours and read through it all. He called you a Wordsmith and a Master Storyteller. He is also one of the most widely read people I know... I wanted to tell you that when I met you I was blown away by what you stood for and what you wanted to do; I had no experience of your writing or your journalism. I have great respect for a few Indian writers - Amitav Ghosh is the best example - who I think have great "stories" but I do not like their craft, and there is no magic in the language. I've only ever applauded Kiran Nagarkar - both Ravan and Eddy and Cuckold are brilliant – and Vikram Chandra, especially for Red Earth and Pouring Rain (I don't consider Rushdie an Indian writer). But I am amazed and embarrassingly surprised at how well you craft language and how beautifully you deal with words. For me, it’s just so exciting to know that there may be more where this came from…
You've told a good story incredibly well, Dude. And in a world of programmed keys, it’s just such a wonderful reaffirmation that, in the end, magic comes from people who make it. Well done, good luck, and may the Force ALWAYS be with you! And don't let the Powers That Be make you let the light in on the magic…”
“I read the first line of your book and shuddered. I read the last line of your book and smiled. In the 500-odd pages between these two lines, I was touched, transported, moved, absorbed, impressed... 'The Alchemy of Desire' is a beautifully woven novel. I enjoyed reading it.”
Read your book Alchemy...! Found it most absorbing...! I am a kind of lost character residing in the mofussil town of Cuttack, Orissa...! My childhood has been spent in West Bengal where my father used to work for the Coal Mines. The 500 bucks i spent to buy the book was done with a lot of scepticism considering the kind of trash that gets packaged as books these days (in the realm of "New Writing") i still have a lot of faith in the classics. But you have not disappointed me even for a moment. The protagonists story seems so much like mine .......I even had that damn toothache for quite some time( tried everything from homeo to hash) till one day i got it fixed by what they call a root canal. I veb driven around a lot in gypsys too and i love the hills( never inherited any money though...the gypsys belonged to my father's mining company). But in one way your protagonist is lucky. My Fizz never came back to me and all the while she was with me our bodies never for once connected in the middle. Now she is connected by marriage in the middle to a banker - my photography and journalism counldn't inspire her! A great job. Will you think it a bit presumptuous if i suggest you find a producer (nothing less than someone of the Merchant Ivory calibre) to make the book into a film. "Alchemy" is the second Tehelka in your life i guess...!
“When I love a book from the get-go--and the older I get, the less likely am I to put myself in that position --I find myself getting nervous somewhere about three-quarters of the way through. Please don't fuck up, I want to say. It's like watching a fine horse race. As the leading stallion pounds around the far bend, you pray he doesn't stumble or lose heart when he eyes and hones in on the finish line. I turned the final page. The horse I bet on not only delivered on his promise, but he took me to another level. That last flick of your tail. Two words, three dots, the end… The silent roar that turns the entire book up on its head and flies out the window before I, the would-be lasso-er, can fumble for my rope. Great fiction can’t be captured, and anyway, the steed I bet on turned out to be Pegasus. I'll go to my grave praising your book.”
....such glorious disdain!!
Still in the middle of the book..it constantly plays on my mind... the combination of desire with the trivial, routine and the national makes for really powerful reading!!The idealism is what is appealing along with the rise and fall of physical passion affecting everything else and everyone else related to it!!
Every free,waking hour of mine is spent on the book ...I just had to find your contact and mail you the kudos!!An absolutely great read!!
Wow Mr Tejpal:
What a whopper of a book you've written. I've just got hold of it and am in the process
of devouring, savouring and salivating over every word, every sentence and just about all the experiences in all their subtleties and nuances you have penned. It's like everything that has already happened in my own life and has been roiling in my soul and you just chanced upon them and wrote about them.
But seriously, a little error on your part that just caught my eye on Page 27 ( I'm at page 29 now) that I just can't help but tell you about. The name of the movie is Bicycle Thief NOT Bicycle Thieves.
Now let me get back to page 29.
...finished reading around 200+ pages of Alchemy... it gets priority over everything else these days
Let me catch my breath before I can admire you with words...
One thing is for sure...from now onwards I am going to tell my students : "The metaphor is the novel!"
Dr. Sushil Kansal
just finished reading The Alchemy of Desire...
...nothing like this has ever been conceived
...if conceived; certainly not attempted
...if attempted; surely not finished
...if finished; it wasn't worth its weight in dust...
You have woven reality with magical words and you have woven magic with real words
I salute you...
Maybe more and more needs to be written about the novel...but for the present - when
I am recovering from the feeling (and it will take a long, long time) - this will suffice.