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Q&A: Amish

Film director Shekhar Kapur called him “India’s first literary popstar”, while celebrated author Anil Dharker said he is ‘a literary phenomenon’. The “Shiva Trilogy”, written by Amish, is a fictional story of a Tibetan tribal called Shiva, whose adventures nearly 4000 years ago, morphed into the mythical legends of the Hindu deity. A graduate of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Calcutta, Amish worked for 14 years in the financial services industry before turning to full-time writing. He lives in Mumbai with his wife Preeti and son Neel.

Amish will take part in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which will take place in Dubai from March 4 to 8.

To become a writer, one needs to read a lot. Do you agree? Absolutely. One hundred per cent. I am a voracious reader. I grew up in a family which read a lot. We used to debate and discuss books all the time. All books convey some thought or philosophy. If you don’t read, how will new ideas germinate in your mind?

Do you think books can change or influence societies?

Any thought can change a society and that thought can come from books, a movie, a speech or even music.

When and where do you like to read?

Anywhere … I read about five newspapers in the morning. Whenever I travel, I carry two to three books with me. Basically, I read wherever I have free time or even when I need to take a half-hour break from writing.

Who is your perfect reader?

There’s no such thing as a perfect reader. I would only suggest that you open a book with an open mind regardless of the background of the writer — rich or poor, he could be from any country or writing in any language.

Do you hang on to books or pass them around when you are done reading?

I hate giving away books. My wife is also a voracious reader and her library is separate from mine. She sometimes gives away my books without my knowledge.

If you could recommend one book, which one would it be?

I have been reading for the past 30 years, so I can’t recommend just one book, but I can recommend a good book that I have read in the past couple of months: “The New Clash of Civilizations” by Minhaz Merchant.

What do you think of literature festivals?

Literature festivals are reviving an ancient tradition. In the past 100 or 150 years, art has become very elitist. It is ridiculous why art should be for only the elite. If you look at Kalidasa’s works, it was not just for the royalty: Even a villager could tell you the story of Shakuntala. So literature festivals are getting rid of this notion that art is only for the elitist.

What are you expecting from the literature festival in Dubai?

I have no idea, I’ll take it as it comes. I have been to the UAE and I love the energy [in the country]. I am hoping to enjoy myself.

Do you have any literary role models?

No, to have a role model means you want to try and be like them. If I like a book too much, I just admire the writer’s work.