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Siddharth Shanghvi on sex and his city

February 25, 2009
If he hadn't become a published author at 26, novelist Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi would have pursued a Master's degree in Sex.

It's true. Shanghvi admitted as much on Tuesday night at the British Council in Mumbai, while reading a few particularly steamy passages from his second novel, The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay.

This revelation -- that a guy from Mumbai wanted to focus his postgraduate studies on fornication, in the far away US state of California, much to the horror of his 'good Gujarati' parents -- sheds light on why both Shangavi's first novel (2004's The Last Song of Dusk, which won the Betty Trask Award and drew handsome comparisons to the work of Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth) and his latest offering are so singularly pre-occupied with sex.

In fact, the final passage he read, which was accompanied by a dramatic musical backdrop, described in detail the first sexual encounter of two of the book's central characters, an intensely forbidden love. So intimate and evocative was the prose that many members of the audience were forced to stifle uncomfortable giggles, ears bright red and burning with embarrassment. This is not your mother's romance novel.

Text: Matthew Schneeberger | Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
Image: Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi at the British Council in Mumbai, February 24, 2009.

Also see: An interview with Abraham Verghese

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