After a gestation of over 8 years, numerous edits and redrafts Powai based author Mathew Menacherry debut novel Arrack in the Afternoon published by leading publishing house HarperCollins.was launched at Crossword Powai at 5pm on Saturday the 28th of Nov, 2009.
This delightful first novel traces the changing ethos of Mumbai as seen through the eyes of the protogonist Verghese Konnikara. The story is of an alchoholic, a chronic depressive, who decides one day to end it all by jumping under a truck on the highway. He survives, however, and following a strange turn of events, is transformed into a godman of sorts.
The tale weaves through the debris and chaos that is modern day Mumbai and also explores the phenomenon of instant stardom, which is now such an intrinsic part of our celebrity culture.
Grandson of scholar and literary critic the late M.P. Paul, Mathew says his style of writing is not influenced by that of his grandfather. “To be honest I haven’t read any of my grandfather’s works as I can’t read Malayalam. I haven’t read any of my aunt Rosy Paul’s (Malayalam author) works either,” says Mathew who was raised in Mumbai.
But being raised in a family that respects literature did have an influence on him, he says. “It was a treasure trove of books, some even rare copies, that greeted us whenever we came down for holidays to Puthenpally. My grandfather was a bibliophile and an avid book collector. A trip to Puthenpally was eagerly awaited as we could plunge ourselves into the world of words and prose.”
Mathew’s own plunge into the world of words and prose began when he started penning down his thoughts into poems. “They are nothing great, although my mother, Annie Paul, likes them.”
The author is in fact planning to turn his collection of poems into a book. “It will tentatively be called ‘Blurred’ and hopefully be in the form of a coffee table book,” says Mathew, whose day job is Director of Business Development, Anthea Aromatics, a company that manufactures specialty chemicals for use in the fragrance and flavour industry in Mumbai.
“The company was started by my father, Dr. Vincent Paul, who was a scientist at Hindustan Lever. He left the company to start Anthea. As he was new to the field, he roped me in to help him. To be honest, I would rather be writing,” says Mathew who adds that his book Arrack… took eight years in the making – five years to write and three years to edit. “I was not a very disciplined writer. When I went back to my earlier chapters while editing, I realised the latter chapters were better written, so I had to rework them,” he smiles.
A movie buff, his list of favourite films includes Kireedom and Nadodikkaattuand Arabhi Katha.Mathew says he dreams of making a movie himself. “But only when I have the time to wholly devote myself to it.”