By Sarita Ravindranath
Ali Sethi, 25, is nursing a wound when I meet him at his hotel in Chennai. The Pakistani writer isn't sure how or when he hurt his toe.
As we await the arrival of a doctor, he gets talking about his first novel, The Wish Maker, that is winning rave reviews.
And about wounds beneath the surface: On life amid chaos in a country where no one knows who's responsible for what. On his fears of being misunderstood, and his hopes for Pakistan.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How much of The Wish Maker is autobiographical?
Parts of it. The setting is one that I'm familiar with. 1990s Lahore. A middle-class to upper middle-class household. A journalist parent -- though in the book, one parent is dead. Both my parents are journalists (Ali is the son of journalists Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin, who launched the Friday Times), and I grew up amid a lot of political discussions at home. The environment is familiar, but the story is not. This is no disguised version of my life.
Writer Ali Sethi . Picture courtesy Penguin Books
Also see: Religion cannot unify Pakistan