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One Love and Many Lives of Osip B

 | Book Awards 2022 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)

One Love and Many Lives of Osip B

Osip Bala Krishnan is a student at a boarding school in Kasauli, who falls in love with his English teacher, Elizabeth. Named after the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam by his Stalinist grandfather—with whom Osip shares a unique mental condition that often causes him to hallucinate incidents of Russia in the mid-20th century—he is determined to find Elizabeth, after she disappears. In the process, Osip unravels the secrets of why his grandfather pretends he cannot remember his past. Osip’s journey is aided by his friend, Anand, a god-man on the make; Arjun Bedi, an iconoclastic writer disintegrating under harassment allegations; and the corpse of the school priest, which Osip and Anand kidnap to extort seed money for their adventures. Through a clutch of dramatic characters, the plot traces and connects contemporary themes of transgressive relationships, gender politics, nationalism, individual freedom and group rights, fake news, and power. Sad, funny, and insightful, the novel asks: Can a dysfunctional young man survive in a deranged world, our world?

Full Title: One Love and Many Lives of Osip B

Author: C. P. Surendran
Publisher: Niyogi Books

Award Category: Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
About the Book: 

Osip Bala Krishnan is a student at a boarding school in Kasauli, who falls in love with his English teacher, Elizabeth. Named after the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam by his Stalinist grandfather—with whom Osip shares a unique mental condition that often causes him to hallucinate incidents of Russia in the mid-20th century—he is determined to find Elizabeth, after she disappears. In the process, Osip unravels the secrets of why his grandfather pretends he cannot remember his past. Osip’s journey is aided by his friend, Anand, a god-man on the make; Arjun Bedi, an iconoclastic writer disintegrating under harassment allegations; and the corpse of the school priest, which Osip and Anand kidnap to extort seed money for their adventures.


About the Author: 

C.P. Surendran is a poet, novelist, screenplay writer, and columnist. His latest volume of verse is Available Light (Collected Poems), preceded by Portraits of the Space We Occupy, Canaries on the Moon, Posthumous Poems, and Gemini II. One Love and the Many Lives of Osip B. is his fourth novel. The earlier ones are Hadal, Lost and Found, and An Iron Harvest. His columns have appeared in leading newspapers in India and abroad. He lives in Delhi.


Excerpt: 

It was 1941 down in the basement. June. Hitler had launched Operation Barbarossa, opening the eastern front of the war, and
Stalin was going through a nervous breakdown over the Nazis reneging on the peace treaty. The only time he had no idea what
to do, my grandfather said.
‘Why not now? You haven’t had one for days.’
Gloria has a shrill, impatient voice, an alarm alerting you to your constant
follies.
‘I had one yesterday.’
‘Are you sitting on a pillow by any chance?’
‘No. Why?’
‘Because I have seen you doing it. Don’t sit on a pillow.’
‘I am not sitting on a pillow. By why can’t I sit on a pillow?’ I was sitting on a pillow.
‘Because it brings you bad luck and you will be in debt.’
‘How?’
‘Never mind. Just go have that shower.’
‘I had one yesterday.’


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