Friday, March 20, 2015

Mr Godin says No. (Is God in?)

Some days, it’s best to stay in bed. Friday, 20 March (not 13, mind you, but the unpropitious New Moon Day nonetheless) was one of them. In the morning, the horrendously expensive family fish tank sprung a leak and had to be put to pasture. Not taking a hint from the admonitory turn of events, I ventured to send an email to Seth Godin asking for his help to get my novel, The Last Gandhi Movie, published. It went out smack at 3 p.m. and read as follows:

Sub: The Last Gandhi Movie: Have I invented the Nuvel?

Dear Mr Godin:

Addressing you as “Dear Seth”, I presume, would perhaps be a tad impertinent. The story I’m about to tell is far from, though. 

At the end of the 20th century, I bought a book on impulse. How to Mutate and Take Over the World (Ballantine, 1996) by a pair of pseudonymous authors was subtitled “An Exploded Post Novel”. An Amazon reader review (05-01-2002) describes it as “… a mix of email between the two authors, interspersed with email to their publisher, news stories, book reviews (yes, reviews for a book in the book they review, and very poor ones too!), and interviews. We are left no knowledge of what is real, fake or somewhere in between.”

Around that time, I also wrote a novel, The Last Gandhi Movie, but did not work hard to market it except making a rather interesting website (The Last Known Address of MK Gandhi, Esquire). Unfortunately, the company that made it closed down and I have only a CD of the website with partial contents. It is also still there on the Wayback Machine, in bits and pieces but not really enough of it. By the way, The Last Gandhi Movie shares two devices of storytelling with How to Mutate and Take Over the World: [1] book reviews and [2] author interview by a hostile critic.

In November 2014, I decided to revive The Last Gandhi Movie. It had suddenly dawned on me that it would work better as a novel if there were a counterpoint added to the main text. There are three narrative strands in the now marginally revised main text: (1) Gandhi, (2) movies and (3) the life and exploits of the nameless narrator. I wrote The Last Gandhi Movie with the digitally inclined reader in mind: very short attention span, familiarity with and fondness for clipped email/sms/twitter style of writing, impatience with over-sentimental plotting. The counterpoint I added to the earlier text in November-December 2014 is a literary innovation of sorts (“RetroNotes”). Some may dismiss the RetroNotes as the writer’s “after-thoughts” and/or his attempt to pre-empt the critics. Others may see their role in adding valuable clues of historical, socio-cultural and psychological context to the story telling. At times, the RetroNotes act as the proverbial Devil’s Advocate adding a dash of contrarian pungency to the narrative. At others, they work as an alienation device. By accident, I may have “invented the Nuvel”.

But why am I eschewing the regular publishing route? Mainly because I see more and more publishers abandoning literary fiction for bestsellers and have closed minds to experimental fiction especially. Maybe, I could go with Kickstarter. But my guess is: it works best only for a celebrity writer.  

To give The Last Gandhi Movie a viral shot in the arm and also to test reader reaction, I am planning to upload it to This website has 18,581,427 academically inclined members and attracts over 15.7 million unique visitors a month according to the ‘About’ page. Among them, quite a few are interested in Gandhian and related studies. This may even help me to find a publisher.

The only time you cited Gandhi was in Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us: “There's no record of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi whining about credit. Credit isn't the point. Change is.” 

The Last Gandhi Movie is about changing the way novels are supposed to be written. Perhaps, as a best-selling author, speaker and agent of change, you may vouchsafe to help publish a path-breaking literary innovation. I am aware that you do not do any coaching, investing or consulting. So why should you make an exception in my case? Having sensed your entrepreneurial zeal and curiosity about anything new from your writings, I think just maybe you’ll do it. If not, at least pitch in a few suggestions on how to go about it.

I’ve not attached the text of my “magnum opus” to this email. I would do so only after you give me the permission to send it.

Do I have your permission?

Meanwhile, many thanks for reading the email. I know fully well I cannot rule out the worst-case scenario. You may say No, thank you. Well, Sir, I am ready to take it on my 78 year-old chin. And, grin.

Warm regards,


Deepak Mankar

At 3:54 p.m., Mr Godin wrote back:

[T]hank you Deepak, for the thoughtful note and for the work you do
I’m afraid that I can’t possibly do your work justice. I’m totally swamped.

Good luck with all of it, sir.


I read the reply about half an hour later and expressed my gratitude at 4:31 p.m. thus:

Thanks, Mr Godin. You are prompt and forthright. I appreciate it. Thanks again and regards,

Deepak Mankar

There the matter rests. As I was saying earlier, some days it’s best to stay in bed.