Juggernaut writing platform’s editor’s pick of the week is ‘The Tenth Day’ by Chirag Tulsiani.
Chirag Tulsiani is an Indian writer in English. He teaches French at Alliance Française du Bengale. ‘The Speech’ a satire on US – North Korea relations was published last year by Juggernaut Books. He has since published a number of gripping and entertaining political narratives on the platform. His story ‘The Tenth Day’ was a contest entry that caught our attention. In this unputdownable story, Detectives Naina Bose and Shishir Ganguly team up to solve the spate of killings in Calcutta, just four months after solving the case of the missing French tourist. Are they able to solve the murders?
Find out here.
Your story is Editor’s Pick of the Week. Please tell us more about it and its inspiration.
I wanted to write a whodunnit where the detectives neither knew the killer nor who his next victim was going to be but what they did know was the murder weapon he was going to use. I wanted to see if it was possible to build a story from there.
‘The Tenth Day’ is my second attempt at crime fiction. It’s about a serial killer on the loose in Calcutta during the Pujas. I have almost finished its prequel ‘The French Woman’ which revolves around the disappearance and murder of a French national.
I must say that it was quite difficult to write Tenth Day because before it, I was only writing political satire. So to draw inspiration for the story and get into the mind of a killer, I realised that I actually had to be one. And a revelation it was. Killing a person isn’t easy, you know. I realised that you can’t strangle a person and make notes at the same time. The victims, they always hold on to your wrists. So after every murder, I would write a draft and then dispose of the body.
Otherwise, crime dramas like The Fall, The Killing (Forbrydelsen), Luther, Maigret and Spiral (Engrenages) were a great help.
Do you have any particular rules or rituals you follow as a writer?
No, I don’t have any rules or rituals. I usually write at night. During the day, I mostly think about the story.
What got you interested in becoming a writer? Where do you go for inspiration?
I’ve been writing since I was 17 or 18. I really tried to establish myself as a writer but couldn’t. Became a French teacher. So, yes. I share a unique relationship with both language and literature. But even now, I identify myself as a writer first and then a foreign language teacher which is kind of ironic.
I feel that my role as a writer is to first and foremost resist. It’s to resist populists and demagogues and hold them accountable. It’s to engage and instruct. Start a conversation about issues which affect us all and finally it is to entertain.
Today, we can see that writers, journalists, artists around the world are being silenced. Space for humour and dissent has diminished. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that satire must fill the vacuum left by the media in its inability to ask questions of those in power.
As for inspiration, well, films have always inspired me. A movie like ‘King of the Belgians’ tells me: This too is art. This too is possible.
What’s that one piece written by you, which is your all-time favourite?
I haven’t written it yet but they are those that I’m writing right now. The first is a political satire called, ‘State Visit’ in which President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins is air pollution’s latest victim. It’s about the chaos that unfolds after he collapses on his first state visit to India.
The second is a short story in French, my first, called L’intrusion (Intrusion). About the locals of a fictional European village who are fed up with tourists and how they hatch a plan to have their village removed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Finally, I’m working on a short novel, a dystopian satire about two Partition refugees who meet each other in their dreams. Much like China is erasing the memory of Tiananmen, in the near future, leaders of New India and Naya Pakistan mutually decide to censor The Partition. As Delhi and Islamabad try to obliterate the collective memory of this great historical event, two refugees try to resist it.
Your bestselling authors and books list. Why do they make it to your list?
I must confess that I haven’t read much and I honestly feel quite ashamed about it. It’s just that I’m really passionate about cinema and it’s through films that I normally consume stories.
However, I loved Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Crocodile’ and ‘Bobok’ when I first read it. I’m a huge fan of Nanjil Nadan. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘A King of His Land’ and ‘Vote-Grabbers’. I also like the short stories of Perumal Murugan and Asghar Wajahat.
As of now, I’ve been reading Chinese writers like Ha Jin and Yiyun Li. I sympathise deeply with dissident writers who live in exile and whose works are censored by the government.
Besides, I loved Leïla Slimani’s ‘The Confession’, Zadie Smith’s ‘Two Men Arrive in a Village’ and Mieko Kawakami’s ‘Where have all the Sundays Gone?’ They are powerful stories which have stayed with me.
Finally, I feel that ‘The Accident’ by Murong Xuecun, ‘A Bad Joke’ by Ha Jin and ‘Tigers on the Tenth Day’ by Zakaria Tamer are stories which are very relevant to the times we are living in.
Any writing tips you’d like to share with fellow writers?
As a writer, you must be patient, you must keep on trying and you must keep on writing especially on those days when you feel stuck.