Climbing the wide stairs to the American Center Library in New Delhi, I had no idea what to expect. Most libraries have relatively small common spaces and a few meeting rooms. So I was surprised and pleased to see the huge open space packed with library patrons and guests, all awaiting the book launch of RIVERS RUN BACK.
Located in Connaught Place, one of the largest commercial and business centers in New Delhi, the American Center is dedicated to supporting the U.S. Embassy's mission to promote mutual understanding between the people of India and the United States.Since RIVERS RUN BACK is a work of fiction co-authored by an Indian writer (Arindam Roy) and myself, we were invited to discuss our collaborative process at the American Center Library. Kala Dutt, the Library Director, warmly welcomed us, as did Emily B. White, Program Director of the American Center, Ramesh Jain from the US Embassy, and Aditi Mody from the Chicago Center in Delhi (a co-sponsor of the event).
Our publisher, Renu Kaul Verma of Vitasta, was present, as was our editor, Veena Batra. It was wonderful to hear how Veena got so involved in reading our book that she frequently forgot her role as editor!
We discussed the Indo-American connections in RIVERS RUN BACK and Arindam explained the origin of our title – how in India the yearning of rivers to run back signifies the deep introspection experienced by all of us—male or female, Eastern or Western—during the different stages in our lives.
I described how one of our American characters, Marilyn – who marries an Indian from Allahabad - decides to discover India for herself and finds meaning and comfort in the story of Durga, the powerful goddess who defeats demons both personal and universal. Arindam discussed how his background as a journalist covering the ‘criminal beat’ gave him insights into the ferocious nature of our antagonist, Narsimha.
Arindam and I originally met and began our book-writing project on Facebook, so it was fitting that many of our longtime Facebook friends were present. It was thrilling to meet some of them for the first time.
Landing in Seattle after 23 hours of travel, these wonderful happenings in Delhi seemed like a dream. Except that inside my suitcase, 3 shrink-wrapped books and a slew of promotional pamphlets were nestled, waiting to remind me that after three years of toil, ‘creative tension,’ and laughter with my writing partner, RIVERS RUN BACK has finally been launched.