"The City of Devi" by Manil Suri - Are Bloomsbury Heading for another Gay Fiction Smash in 2013?
Manil Suri's latest novel "The City of Devi" which features a gay muslim character at its centre could be the award-winning author's most successful title yet when it comes out next year. The novel tells the story of Sarita, a thirty-three year old statician who sets out to find her lost husband after he vanishes in Mumbai. Set against an intense and terrifying backdrop of nuclear annihilation in the face of India's global emergence, Sarita's journey collides with that of Jaz, a secretly gay muslim who is also trying to find a former lover. Sarita and Jaz decide to help each other's quests before realising that they are both looking for the same man...
Indian-American mathematician and author Manil Suri found success with his 2001 novel "The Death of Vishnu" which was long-listed for the Booker Prize and led to American publishing house W.W.Norton giving him a generous advance to write more.
Suri, who keeps in touch with fans over Facebook, posted on his page last December to announce W.W.Norton were all set to go with "The City of Devi" but that a UK publisher was yet to be secured. It is now rumoured that Bloomsbury will publish the book over here. Suri also let his fans voice their opinion over the book's title, with "The City of Devi" beating "Superdevi" narrowly in a poll.
Bloomsbury are emerging as one of the LGBT community's favoured publishing houses with an impressive track-record for investing in good quality gay fiction, not only boasting literary giants like Edmund White amongst their stable of authors (who published his first novel in seven years "Jack Holmes and his Friend" with Bloomsbury last year) but also running with less-mainstream exciting gay titles like Madeleine Miller's "The Song of Achilles" last summer - a fantastic read which really did deserve more mainstream attention, and presumably will in good time.
It seems the literary circuit is happy to venerate a gay title once every year, with Booker Prize recognition arriving perhaps once in every five, and we're used to seeing the same host of gay authors contest for that rotary throne - Alan Hollinghurst, Alan Bennett, Damon Galgut, Sarah Waters, Ali Smith.
Manil Suri's "The City of Devi" has picked, perhaps accidentally, a good time to come out - now that the noise following Hollinghurst's "The Stranger's Child" and White's "Jack Holmes and his Friend" has quietened down.
From the few tit-bit previews that can currently be found online "The City of Devi" sounds as if it will combine the social energy of a Hanif Kureishi novel with the cultural feast of Monica Ali, and the sexual adornment of a Pierre et Gilles portrait. Here's to hoping. Roll on 2013!