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Journalists Who Moonlight as Fiction Writers

March 2008
Journalists Who Moonlight as Fiction Writers

For hard-nosed reporting, journalists typically rely on probing interviews, observations, and facts grounded in detailed research. Fiction writers, on the other hand, can soar on the wings of imagination. The two skills, though complementary in some ways, draw on the same ability to tell stories—whether real or made-up—in an engaging, persuasive manner. Nonfiction writers often bring creative energy to their work, while novelists make their writing believable with the help of reportorial techniques. So it raises no eyebrows when journalists gravitate to fiction, as indeed many have. Here are some Indian wordsmiths who wear both hats with ease.

Sagarika Ghose is better known as a prime time anchor on CNN-IBN, where she’s also a senior editor. But now that her new novel, Blind Faith, has just been released in the U.S., she may gain wider recognition as an author. Aravind Adiga, a former Time magazine correspondent, is creating a stir with The White Tiger, his debut novel. “[The protagonist] Balram is a clever and resourceful narrator with a witty and sarcastic edge that endears him to readers, even as he rails about corruption, allows himself to be defiled by his bosses, spews coarse invective and eventually profits from moral ambiguity and outright criminality,” states Publishers Weekly in a starred review. “It's the perfect antidote to lyrical India.”

Raj Kamal Jha, executive editor at the Indian Express, is the author of three novels, including his recent Fireproof. Thrity Umrigar, whose second novel is called The Space Between Us, worked as a journalist at American newspapers for 17 years. Shankar Vedantam, a staff writer for The Washington Post, came out with The Ghosts of Kashmir, based partly on his experiences in that strife-torn state. The weekly Tehelka, known for its sting operations, has a suitably flamboyant editor, Tarun Tejpal, who writes titillating fiction when he’s not provoking politicians with his weekly’s nonfiction. Tejpal’s newest novel is titled The Story of My Assassins.

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