The World

Beyond his daytime job in the Office of Public Affairs at the US consulate in Chennai (the capital of the Indian state Tamil Nadu) S. Diwakar has a prolific career as a translator and a short story writer, with several collections in Kannada. He spent the fall of 2002 in Iowa City as a fellow of the IWP.

A novelist writes about another novelist who is writing two novels about two other novelists, one writing novels to tell lies, the other to search for truth. In the 42 novels about 42 novelists they write, there are some novelists completely unaware of the lies they tell or deliberately telling lies or some that look for truth knowing pretty well they won’t find it or some skeptical about the truth they find. And those 47 novelists write 560 novels describing 1,585 novelists, and among those 1,585 novelists, while some novelists behave childishly even after having grown old in dozens of novels, others (some of them women) hang on to some ideals because of their Western education, and, despite marriage and family worries, become social reformers in about 60 novels, yet others rebel for reasons of their ideals or nation or selfishness and start a revolution against poverty and inequality in 920 novels, and only one novelist, leaving his home and family and traveling around the country, fights for the freedom of his nation and writes a beautiful novel about another novelist who, like himself, leaving his home and family to travel around the country, fights for the freedom of his nation, and finally gets killed. The main character of another novel about another novelist, a person from the same town as that of the dead novelist, suffers from loneliness even while stressing the need for subjectivity, forgets the very existence of the dead novelist and writes a novel about 2,088 novelists who in turn write 5,831 novels narrating the eternal plight of society’s oppressed peoples and 3,216 novels depicting the interior landscape of women. In 9,057 novels those 2,088 novelists write there appear 13,702 novelists whose 20,829 novels tell the story of only one novelist who, although he tries to write a single novel about one other novelist, fails to complete that novel, meets the other novelist and, to kill him, boils down all the novelists, including himself, numbering 13,701, 9,057, 2,088, 1,585, 47, 2, 1, and finally becomes the single novelist known as the novelist of all novelists.

—translated from the Kannada by Christopher Merrill and the author