Why has The Tailor's Needle appealed to readers all over the globe?
The Tailor’s Needle, first published in the UK in 2009, has been published in India by Penguin in December 2012. I could never have dreamed that this novel would sweep across the world this way. Perhaps the reason for its success in the market has been the fact that it is multicultural and therefore has aroused the curiosity of both the East and the West. The other feature that has possibly made it look interesting is that it takes the reader into the past; into a period that covers 1917-1945. The novel has captured minds somewhat like Oliver Goldsmith’s novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, had done in its own time. Like that novel, The Tailor’s Needle has possibly supported life in a unique way. It has tended to be read as a work that has the potential to be a substitute for religion, in the Arnoldian sense. In times when people lack the kind of anchor that religion provided long back, this novel has acted as a support that is much needed. It is not merely hilarious it has a philosophical dimension too.
That, however, is just one aspect of this novel. The other is that it has moments of the murder mystery, the gothic, the psychological novel, the post-colonial novel and above all provides what is sometimes called “literary tourism” – helping the reader to see another culture and another age. One critic insisted that it had more magical realism than any other novel till date. It is a Raj novel but it is not just that. It has something of Dickens, Orwell, Hitchcock, Forster and other Indian fictionalists. No wonder it has helped me to establish my career as a novelist. I have received requests to write the sequel to this novel. Readers have been inquiring after the publication of my second novel, Emancipation, which is now with my UK literary agent, likely to be published sometime this year.