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    Kanishk Tharoor’s short stories, Swimmer Among the Stars, includes an Emily Belch award-winner

    IN 2010, 85-year-old Boa Senior from the Great Andamanese community died in Port Blair. She was the last person fluent in the Bo language of the Andaman Islands. Like Boa Senior, Kanishk Tharoor’s short story, Swimmer Among the Stars talks about a woman, the last speaker of a near extinct language, trying to communicate with ethnographers studying her vocabulary. The short story, along with a dozen others, are complied in Tharoor’s debut book, Swimmer Among the Stars, released last week.

    Background checkBook

    The 31-year-old-writer is currently touring the country to promote his book, published by the Aleph Book Company.  “The stories have been penned by me over a decade. Some were a product of many months of research and reading, and some descended upon me, after I read a news story or travelled somewhere,” begins Tharoor.

    Past meets present

    The writer had earlier worked in the Guantanamo Bay Oral History Project, which recorded interviews of former inmates of Guantanamo Bay. In The Mirrors of Iskandar, one of the stories in the book, Tharoor imagines a tale with Alexander the Great. In Elephant at Sea, he tells the travails of an elephant and mahout from Kerala, who are gifted to the Princess of Morocco as a diplomatic gesture. “This was based on a real life story I’d been told as a child,” adds the New Yorker, who is currently smitten with the works of Icelandic poet Sjón and Argentinian writer Cesar Aira. He is currently working on a BBC radio series called the Museum of Lost Objects and a novel set in the 15th century around the Mediterranean. He says he is always reminded of his father Shashi Tharoor’s words when writing, which is to trust his own instincts and not to conform to the expectations of others.

    Swimmer Among the Stars is available on flipkart.com. Rs 499.
    —​P Peter

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