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Kris Advaya

Kris Advaya

Kris Advaya

Can you tell us about your book, The Buddha of the Brothel?

The Buddha of the Brothel’ is my story set in 2004, during my fifth trip to India. It was when I came to Pune to learn about Ayurveda, notably its massage practice. The title is taken from a conversation that’s in the book and is a kind of a tongue-in-cheek comment on someone who was previously a celibate, living a life in a religious order and then fell in love with a prostitute. I hope the readers will appreciate the irony; though what I hope more deeply is that readers won’t mind the fact that while it’s non-fiction, I tried to write it like a memoir so that it reads a bit like literary fiction. It was inevitable due to my background, and I do believe it makes the reading much more enjoyable.

Who are your favourite authors?

The list keeps changing all the time, but among writers who are criminally underrated I would mention the late Boris Vian, a French polymath known principally for his surrealist novel Froth on the Daydream (AKA Mood Indigo AKA Foam of the Daze) and his anti-war song The Deserter in which he urges the president to be a good boy and give his own life for killing poor people instead of the artist.

Would you like your book to be in other formats as well?

Yes, cinema. But not in India, at least not its commercial format. I had to do something creative so I studied about 4- 5 textbooks on screenwriting and thus far have completed about 80 percent. It’s much more cerebral and less artistic than prose writing since a screenplay for a genre like this – drama with a few elements of comedy – shouldn’t have more than 120 pages so the pacing is different. Also, many parts have to be cut without sacrificing anything of import, and character, as also the story progression must rely on visual story-telling instead of monologues (in a good script at least) or creating new dialogues in the place of internal monologue in the book. Think Alexander Payne (Nebraska, Sideways, etc). I’ll possibly go to LA next year to find an agent to represent the screenplay. Let’s see.

Which is the most underrated book?

I’’ll go with Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky, although it is highly rated among select scholars. A difficult and unsettling existentialist read which stands out through how far ahead of its time it was when originally published.

What was most challenging while writing the book?

I had by coincidence studied the two most difficult literary courses in college, but have never taken any creative writing courses/lessons so the process was excruciating. Especially since English is not my mother tongue, and while the quality in the end didn’t suffer (or so I’ve been told) because of that, it often took a lot of time to find precisely the word I needed, and I somehow just couldn’t move forward until I did. And, of course, finding buried memories and painting them with literary language and graspable wit was not easy either.

What has surprised you about India?

I had earlier heard all sorts of things about India from a variety of people, so I can’t say that anything was particularly surprising when I came for the first time back in ’99. Oh! The honking was the thing that no one had prepared me for, neither the volume nor the regularity. My first walks were thus spent moving further and further towards the edge of the road until I realized the issue wasn’t my positioning.

Have there been impediments to your writing?
Not really. I think the impediment is primarily reserved for those types of writing where plotting is of paramount importance. Although, I do sometimes stop until I find exactly the word or the expression I need.

About the Interviewee:

Kris Advaya emerged from the void in Yugoslavia in the spring of 1976. After crawling his way through a stint in the military, and already multilingual, he spent five years studying French, Russian, and literature at the University of Ljubljana. Always artistic, he spent most of these years writing songs and abusing an electric guitar while playing with his alternative rock band. Soon afterwards, life took him to India and its enticing ways, and he’s been trying to cure himself of nomadism ever since.