Fourteen years ago, UK-born author Rana Dasgupta moved to Delhi to be with someone he loved. But he says he found the city itself very interesting. With his new book, Capital: The Eruption Of Delhi, the author talks about how he’s seen the city changing, physically and culturally.
How has Delhi evolved, in your opinion?
There were amazing things happening in Delhi when I moved there. That’s exactly what chapter one describes. The kind of people I met (mostly my girlfriend’s friends) were brilliant. The city was trying to figure out what it wants to be. There was excitement and idealism. Eventually, that dried up. It became a darker place. People became quite depressed about the kind of society they were part of.
The book cover
Does the book attempt to break stereotypes about Delhi – for instance, it’s been tagged as the ‘rape capital’?
The book tries to make us tender towards the city. For instance, a lot of discussions we’ve had about the rapes in Delhi have not been productive. In the sense that, okay there are as*****s, but jailing them does not solve the problem. There are issues like broken social relations, which are inherent.
Some of the events you discuss in the book probably happened before you got to Delhi. How did you do that research?
Writers engage in a lot of reading as part of research. But I also wanted to capture a lot of personal stories, which led me to talking to different people, young and old, and how they felt about being at a place at a particular time.
On a different note, what are you reading at present?
Tash Aw’s Five Star Billionaire; just finished it recently.
Is there a book you’ve never managed to get through?
Tonnes. One that I’ve started many times, and which I should finish someday, is The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.