Tech Guru is also acclaimed writer
G B Prabhat, an IIT Madras alumnus, has spent over 25 years in the IT and consulting industry and is considered one of the pioneers and builders of the offshore consulting model. He is also a critically acclaimed author of literary fiction. ‘Early Indications’ his third novel, is set in Coimbatore and is about friendship. Prabhat’s short stories at The Hindu won high praise.
Prabhat is currently Principal – Business Transformation at KPIT Cummins Infosystems Limited, a global Consulting and IT Services provider. Earlier, he founded Anantara Solutions Private Limited and propounded the revolutionary Second Generation Outsourcing (SGO) model. He has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the P S G College of Technology, Coimbatore, India and a graduate degree in Computer Science from the IIT, Madras. He lives with his family in Chennai.
Prabhat has 3 novels and 15 short stories to his credit. His first novel, Chains, was published in 2000 to critical acclaim. Eimona, his second novel published in 2006, is a dystopian story set in modern India that has been compared with Brave New World and 1984. Prabhat's short stories have appeared in Asia Literary Review, The Hindu and The Indian Express. Some stories have been translated into Telugu, Hindi and Chinese.
Here is the conversation Techgoss had with G B Prabhat.
Techgoss (TG): Your books, and your writing: How and when did the Muse happen to you, would you sketch your odyssey through words so far?
GB Prabhat (GBP): The Muse is an inscrutable being; it is hard to predict when it would strike. I have been writing since the age of five. My first novel, “Chains,” is about the angst of a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) family from California returning to India and trying to settle down. My second novel, “Eimona,” (“anomie” in reverse) deals with the anomie due to the twin forces of global capitalism and Information Technology that afflicts us. In contrast, “Early Indications,” my third novel, is an intense and intimate story set in a small place – Coimbatore. In addition, I have 16 short stories to my credit that have appeared in “The Hindu,” “The Indian Express,” and “Asia Literary Review.”
A few Tamil short stories of mine have appeared in popular magazines like Ananda Vikatan. I am a business writer too. My book on management, “The 3D Competitive Space: Managing in the New Economy” was published by McGraw Hill India in 1997. I have nearly a 100 management / technical articles published in leading magazines and international journals.
TG: “Early Indications” is your latest book, and is about friendship and nostalgia in Coimbatore of a period ago. Tell us more about the book
GBP: “Early Indications” is only peripherally about friendship and nostalgia. It is more a meditation on what happens when you take innocent utterances seriously and the possibility of redemption in real life. The novel happens in Coimbatore which is an unprecedented setting for Indian writing in English. For the most part, Indian English fiction has focused on one of two extremes: the teeming metropolises of Mumbai, Bangalore or Delhi, or the stereotyped, deprived Indian village. The majority of India lives between these extremes. Places like Coimbatore deserve to be showcased if Indian English fiction has to retain authenticity.
TG: What are you plans for writing now?
GBP: Once you acquire the bad habit of writing, it is hard to stop. I am working on my fourth novel now.
TG: How has your writing been received, could you tell us about some interesting responses?
GBP: The critical acclaim my novels have received is creditable, but the readership has been modest. I attribute that largely to the fact that the literary fiction reading revolution in India has not arrived. The popular fiction market came of age only recently and I am hoping the literary fiction market will follow. To spur the literary fiction market, the Amazon Kindle version of “Early Indications” is priced at Rs.50 (99 cents). The idea is to shatter the myth that popular fiction is inexpensive and literary fiction is expensive, and to put a copy in every young reader’s e-reader. The regular paperback version is available at a steep discount on other online seller pages.
My short stories have had a wider reach than my novels. “The Hindu” gave me the rare privilege of writing a series of 10 short stories – the Sudden Fiction type – that met with an overwhelming reader response. One story in particular, “Remember me to one who lives there,” of an old woman with Alzheimer’s disease, created a minor emotional frenzy. “The Hindu” published letters from readers two weeks in succession. Two readers were moved enough to render the story into Telugu and Hindi. A rapturous reader converted the story into a poem. I stopped counting emails after the numbers became large. The story appeared in January 2006. Readers have emailed me through the years. The last email I received on the story was in October 2011, clearly giving the lie to the popular idea that the life of a daily newspaper ends with the day! A Google search for “Remember me to one who lives there” often produces the Hindu link to my short story as the first hit affirming the continuing popularity of the story.