The first fiction title I worked on editing from scratch was Gods of Willow, the debut novel of Amrish Kumar. A coming-of-age story of an extremely relatable protagonist and his journey from Hyderabad to Bombay and back again to Hyderabad, with all the nuances and uncertainties of young adulthood captured just so.
In fact, Gods of Willow turned out to be a story of many firsts, not just those in the book but even behind the scenes.
Amrish had a very clear idea of what he wanted the cover to look like and I had a very clear idea of who I wanted working on it – and in came Manimanjari Sengupta, an artist whose work I have been following for a couple of years now.
Mani, which is how I think of her now and what I call her, is incredible. Her strength lies in painting women (for the most part) with such love, grace and honesty that you have to see it to believe it. I was convinced that she’d find a way to bring the same beauty to the story we were working on, a story that merited this beauty.
Amrish, with the precision of a surgeon, described what he wanted for the cover and Mani began her own complex process of bringing each character to life – poring over the book, marking out sentences which best described the characters we were portraying and executing the depiction of each so beautifully. She learnt how to draw men’s hair, showed us how the change of a character’s attire from pants to a lungi could make all the difference and got the backs of all the characters so right. She also drew the cleverest goddess (in the context of the book) that I have ever seen. It was her first book cover and she did not
And so it came to be that we had a debut author, a first-time-fiction-editor and a first-time- cover-designer working on a book cover, which sounds like the beginning of a joke but turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I have seen created for a book that does not deserve any less.
Executive Editor and Rights Manager