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Pallavi Aiyar on her latest book

Journalist-author Pallavi Aiyar explores contemporary China through the perspective of cats.

books Updated: Mar 02, 2011 13:30 IST

In her latest novel,

Chinese Whiskers,

journalist-author Pallavi Aiyar explores contemporary China through the perspective of two cats.

We remember the valuable lessons in our Panchatantra tales given by animals through their adventurous escapades. We also know the social critique offered by the farm animals in George Orwell's Animal Farm. And now noted journalist and author, Pallavi Aiyar writes about the facades and follies of contemporary China presented through the view of two cats- Tofu and Soya Bean.

"There is a clarity", says Aiyar, "a getting to the essential truth of things, that an animal's perspective enables...which is why they are so often used in fables and morality tales... animal's perspective allows us to hold up a mirror to ourselves and see ourselves more clearly without the layers of grey that would refract another human's observations."

On the two protagonists of her novel Aiyar says, "Animals, in particular pets, can be interesting narrators of a story because of the insider-outsider perspective that they can bring to bear on events…being non-human they bring an assessing eye to the human condition that may seem naïve but in fact asks very important questions." The two cats offer a fresh perspective on the 2008 Beijing Olympics; they understand human language and expose cynical schemes.


Chinese Whiskers

is an attempt to bring a Chinese story into Indian consciousness", says Aiyar talking about the inspiration for this story. In her seven years in China, she has observed that the constant rivalry between the two nations has led to an emotional disconnect between the two. Therefore,

Chinese Whiskers

, seeks to "normalize" China by demonstrating the universality of the challenges and opportunities thrown up by rapid economic development and "modernization" in traditional societies".