The past and present are no longer a fixed reality

Updated: Apr 24, 2020, 09:12 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

Despite being set in a future dystopian world of cults and societal chaos, author Samit Basu's new work of fiction will appeal to readers

Samit Basu
Samit Basu

When did you decide to write Chosen Spirits (Simon&Schuster)? Was there any trigger or inspiration?

I wanted to do near-future stories for a while: we've been seeing a lot of dystopian news and fiction, but nothing that deals with our corner of the planet, that is more dystopian in reality than any fiction. There are multiple-choice apocalypses that are threatening our planet, most of them of human origin, so I started reading about them. Before I knew what was happening, three years had passed, and I had a mountain of notes for the next 50 years. I wanted to start with a decade from now, which is not so starkly different from today's world, and imagine two young people try to lead 'normal' lives and fail.

Without giving away the plot, do you feel the story will resonate even more with readers at the moment?

Absolutely. The characters live in a near-future world full of round-the-clock surveillance, cultural chaos, constant distraction, fascism in the shadows, extreme pollution, water shortages, mysterious inner-circle authoritarians, godman cults, incredible inequality, occasional pandemics and secret protests. And one of the two protagonists manages a problematic but charismatic influencer who live-streams his life.

How does it feel to move from a physical copy release to a digital one?

I think it's incredibly appropriate for this book, since it is set in the near future, and a fair bit of it is set in digital spaces, including whole chapters in digital meetings. We live in a country where the past and present are no longer fixed reality, so I think the future is the best lens to see it through. And while the circumstances of this novel's release are obviously not ideal, I'm glad to see it out, because the news keeps spoiling the bad things in it.

Release date April 28
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