Back Story: we of the forsaken world by Kiran Bhat
Contributor

We are talking to Kiran Bhat, author of we of the forsaken world (yes, all lower case). Kiran was born in Jonesboro, Georgia, to parents from villages in Dakshina Kannada, India. An avid world traveler, polyglot, and digital nomad, he has currently traveled to more than 130 countries, lived in 18 different places, and speaks 12 languages. He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. Like modern communication networks, the stories in we of the forsaken world connect along subtle lines, dispersing at the moments where another story is about to take place. Each story is a parable unto itself, but the tales also expand to engulf the lives of everyone who lives on planet Earth, at every second, everywhere.

"we, of the forsaken world... came to me in 2011," Kiran says. "When I was on a bus between Dubrovnik and Zagreb. A tall, brunette woman with a lingering stare sat down next to me on one of the stops. We began to talk about a host of things I can’t remember now, but the one thing that she told me which did remain in my head was the following: Croatia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Something about that sentence inspired my imagination. After we reached the bus station, I had to sit on one of the metal benches for a few hours, and write. I was starting to imagine different countries, completely imagined in my head. One was a half-rich half poor megalopolis, the sort found in most third-world countries. Then, there was a town that wasn’t so different looking from my grandmother’s place, the southern Indian city of Mysore. There was a tribe in the middle of nowhere, not to mention a town of great touristic importance, destroyed by an industrial spill. I also imagined hundreds of voices. Though, over the course of time, those two hundred-so voices became around sixteen; the most distinct and boisterous of the lot.

"The tale of how I got published is equally as much of a complicated one. I had finished the book in 2016. One of my friends, who was an editor at a small press in New York, gave me a list of agents to contact. Most of them responsed stealthily and quickly, but after some months, they did not find my book – experimental, ambitious, overtly literary – to be a quick fit for the market. They had to turn it down. After about a year of waiting for these agents to respond, I started submitting to small presses. It was in 2019 that I got a response from an editor at Iguana Books. They were interested in publishing the book. I told them that I was still waiting for some other publishers to respond, so I asked them to wait for some weeks so that I could get some responses. Within two weeks, this same editor emailed me, asking me to follow up. He really liked this book, and wanted to publish it. 

Before my work with Iguana Books, I hadn’t had a publisher respond to me so positively. Admittedly, Iguana Books is a hybrid press. This means that they vet every book project that they take on, but they ask the author to take on the financial burdens of publication. This still did not mean that they had to care so much about my writing. They did a lot of work, from the editorial stages, to the design of the cover, and the maps that I asked to have tailored onto the book itself, to make sure that the book was aesthetically enriched. They spent a lot of time with me talking on the phone, making sure all of my needs were met, from last-minute changes to a sentence or two, to having my books flown to Hong Kong or Delhi for the sake of book festivals. I do not think having been published by a hybrid press has downgraded the quality of my work in any way; if anything, I am glad to have had people who believe as fondly in my vision as I do. It makes me look forward to later publications, as well as the future of my career."

You can pick up a copy of his book, we of the forsaken world, at Amazon.

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