Photo Credit : Mark Allen
Los Angeles-based writer Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla was born in Kenya, where, at 13 years old, he published his first article in the national magazine VIVA.
His critically-acclaimed debut novel, "Ode to Lata", was hailed by the LA Times as "an accomplishment" and The Library Journal as "brilliant." An excerpt premiered in the anthology, Contours of the Heart (Rutgers), and went on to win the 18th Annual American Book Award. Dhalla went on to adapt, produce and co-direct the novel into the feature film, "The Ode" which premiered at the Outfest Film Festival (2008).
His follow-up novel, "The Two Krishnas" garnered raves from peers, Lisa See, Chitra Divakaruni and his inspiration, Andrew Holleran and was published as "The Exiles" in India where it went on to become a bestseller.
He is currently developing "Embrace", a feature film based on love stories impacted by actual terror events from around the world.
The novel begins with “Desire is incapable of hypocrisy.” Is this the kernel of the novel? Can you comment on what motivated you to write this novel?
We cannot fake desire or dictate to it. Race, religion, age, sexual orientation - all of these are masks to cover the fact that ultimately, we are all the same. The two lovers, Rahul and Atif, represent these societal and communal polarities, but soon we realize that despite the differences, they are irresistibly and irrevocably drawn to one another and couldn't be more alike on a soul level. The Exiles (The Two Krishnas) is an attempt to transcend these oppressive notions, to expose how we are completely helpless and equalized in the face of desire and love. Hindu, Muslim, gay, straight - it doesn't matter. Ultimately we all want to belong, to love and be loved, and to be authentic. Truth is the oxygen of a relationship. A relationship based on lies and hypocrisy is simply on a countdown to destruction.
My heart also goes out to all the women that enter into such marriages and end up unfulfilled, insecure and ultimately betrayed. Since the novel is told from all three perspectives – the husband, the wife and the lover – hopefully, it presents a balanced and intimate take and opens up a discussion on personal culpability and repercussions.
The Two Krishnas (AKA The Exiles) is indisputably cautionary. We feel for all the characters, route for them all, yet feeling helpless to prevent the inevitable, knowing there is no way this will end up happily.
I suspect the reason we feel an affinity to all the characters may be because we not only get to know each of them intimately, but also, ultimately, accept our own culpability in their lives. We begin to recognize that we have created a world in which we have made it difficult for certain people to have a chance at happy endings. In a world where we judge others because they are different from us and deprive them of the right to live honest lives due to societal or religious pressures, we set the stage for deception. The Rahul Kapoors of this world feel it necessary to enter into what society has deemed normal, and shun what is natural to them because they have been brought up to believe that desiring another man is wrong. So, when we encounter women - a sister, an aunt, a girlfriend - that is devastated because her husband turned out to be gay, remember that we, as a society, have enabled this deception. We become complicit in the resulting tragedy.
Bestselling authors like Chitra Divakaruni, Lisa See and Bapsi Sidhwa have praised the novel. It has been described as a “classic tale of love and loss”, “timely” and “heart-wrenching.” The theme of tragedy weaves through the novel and we are filled with the sinking feeling that it can’t end well for any of them. Are they all being punished for one man’s inability to face up to the truth about his sexuality? It this ultimately a novel about retribution?
Rahul is the dutiful, compliant person in all of us. After mistakenly thinking that he can squash his desires, he has obediently followed the path that family, religion and society have prescribed for him. We all know such men. The tragedy and blessing is that after years of following the plan, he finally encounters the one person that completes him in a way that nobody can, not even his wife, whom he undeniably loves. But this epiphany, the courage to follow his desire, to be his authentic self, has arrived too late. So, would it have been better for him to never have found his true love and ended his life in a placid but unfulfilled marriage? Or to have finally surrendered to his passion and feel completely realized even though it may destroy others? That is his tragedy and the tragedy of all who have tried to suppress their true natures in vain.
But the novel is also about the repercussions of blind faith and refusing to face reality – whether in the man you love or the God you worship. We know women who have turned a blind eye to red flags in the men they love. Women who have refused to acknowledge the proclivities of a man because they are steadfast in their vision of him, in what they think he should be or what they can make him. The novel calls for an awakening from such delusion. God or man, whomever you love, an examined faith while not as romantic as blind faith, may be the key to an enduring love.
Mr.Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla has sportingly agreed to giveaway 2 Autographed Copies of 'The Two Krishnas' to the residents of US and 1 Paperback of 'The Exiles' to a lucky resident of India.
I have set up two separate Rafflecopters one for US Entries and one for Indian Entries. Please enter in the right Rafflecopter.
Also, please remember I will be checking the entries.
All the Best!