Sudipto Speaks of His Inspirational History

It might be ordained or it could be luck but I consider my quite fortunate that my association with THE BOOK CLUB offers me the chance to interact with so many talented and intuitive writers. A chance of interact and showcase many new writers as well as many prolific writers.

Sudipto Das is another gem with a much acclaimed novel THE EKKOS CLAN to his credit. It is a historical fiction and I was intrigued that how is it possible to be unbiased in writing a book if it is steeped in your own history.

Sudipto sure knows how to achieve this delicate balance if the buzz about the book is anything to go by. Today he shares with us the insight of how our past is not ‘just done and over’ with but a spring board of for the future.

His words will resonate with you as you realise that no incident is too small, no relation too insignificant and no story must be forgotten. 

Please welcome Author Sudipto Das.

My personal history inspired me to write a historical fiction……..

As I mentioned in the first question of the Author Answers’ Series, the entire Bangladesh chapters are autobiographical. I heard a lot of stories about my father and uncle and grandmother. 

One particular episode, when my father – he was just seven then – left his mother and escaped to India with his elder brother who was just fourteen, would bring tears to my eyes whenever I listened to it from an old aunt who stayed with us. 

She would baby sit me and my young brother after our school as both our parents would be out at work. She would tell me the same stories again and again and I would insist on listening to this particular story. It was etched in my memory as if I was there, when all these were unfolding.

Later, when I grew up, I felt, this part of Indian history was not well covered either in literature or films. You get a lot of stuff about the Punjab side of the partition. But a similarly horrific episode of our history in the eastern side, the partition of Bengal, has been almost forgotten by the creative people. I felt someone should write about it. 

I knew that it would be very tough to write in a space filled with glorious works of the likes of Khushwant Singh and Amrita Pritam Singh, but then I’d already decided not to make my novel another partition saga. But the personal history indeed played a great role in the writing of my first book.

In fact it’s a well-known trend now days. Many authors are taking their family stories and real life experience to a wider audience through their books.

In a recent article in the Hindu, “Stories on Conflict”, (
Jaya Bhattacharji Rose said the following:

Contemporary sub-continental literature comprises storytellers who probably grew up listening to stories about conflict in their regions. It is evident in the variety, vibrancy and strength discernible in South Asian writing with distinct styles emerging from the nations. 

There is something in the flavour of writing; maybe linked to the socio-political evolution of the countries post-conflict —Partition or civil unrest. In India, there is the emergence of fiction and non-fiction writers who offer a sharp perspective, informed by their personal experiences, who are recording a historical (and painful) moment. 

Recent examples are Rahul Pandita’s Our Moon Has Blood Clots, Amandeep Sandhu’s Roll of Honour, Chitrita Banerji’s Mirror City, Sujata Massey’s The City of Palaces, Sudipto Das’s The Ekkos Clan, Shahnaz Bashir’s The Half Mother and Samanth Subramanian’s The Divided Land, a travelogue about post-war Sri Lanka.

I fully agree with Jaya. Writing from personal experience makes the story more authentic, poignant and realistic. In most cases the facts and figures are tweaked beyond any acceptable limits by authors to fit an incident into the realms of her literary works. 

But that makes the very incident look very unrealistic and readers may be able to catch the same very easily. I felt at ease the most while writing the chapters on Bangladesh. I almost recreated everything, the setting, the backdrop, the people, the trees, the rivers, the villages, the horror in the eyes of the villagers. 

Incidentally most people have told me those chapters are perhaps the best chapters in the entire book. So I myself realized that when I write from personal experience, somewhere it becomes more poignant, more touching. 

Thank you Sudipto for this insightful advice and I hope my readers can use it for honing their writing even more. I totally agree that our work which is in sync with our emotions is most precious.

I am reading the book The Ekkos Clan with great anticipation and look forward for reviewing it soon. 

Till then, Keep writing, Keep reading.

Meet the Author

Sudipto was born in Calcutta to a family which fled Bangladesh during the partition riots of 1947. He grew up listening horrid stories of the partition, something which he has used extensively in his debut novel The Ekkos Clan. He completed his engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 1996. He lives in Bangalore.

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The Ekkos Clan 
Sudipto Das

The Blurb
 “The Ekkos Clan” is the story of Kratu’s search for the killers of his family, his own roots and the mystery behind his grandmother’s stories.

It’s the fascinating account of Kubha and the basketful of folklore she inherited from her ancestors. The eventful lives of Kubha and her family span a hundred years and encompass turbulent phases of Indian history. The family saga unfurls gradually, along with Kubha’s stories, through the three main characters – Kratu Sen, a grad student at Stanford, Kratu’s best friend Tista Dasgupta, and Afsar Fareedi, a linguistic palaeontologist.

Afsar hears about Kubha’s stories from Kratu in a casual conversation, but she figures that these stories are not meant to be mere bed time tales – they contain rich linguistic fossils and layers of histories.

In a bizarre incident Kratu miraculously survives an attempt on his life. His sister and uncle had not been so lucky. Were these murders acts of revenge, or a larger ideological conflict connected to Kubha’s stories which conceal perilous secrets that should be suppressed?

Afsar, Kratu and Tista travel across continents to unravel the mystery of Kubha’s roots and the origin of her stories.

At a different level, the novel subtly delves into the origin of one of the oldest civilizations of the world and the first book written by mankind.

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