‘Writing puts me in touch with my conscience’: Udayan Mukherjee on ‘No Way In’ – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

“No Way In” begins with a theft and ends with an all-consuming guilt despite the character not being part of a crime. What are these scenes meant to convey?

The class and its manifestations are one of the central themes of the novel. The opening scene – a petty theft blamed without any evidence on the maid – is something we’ve all witnessed. As if by virtue of being poor, such a person is bound to be dishonest. As perpetrators, it is our duty to bring injustices to light.

The book ends without closing, leaving the reader with more questions. Your thoughts.

This is exactly the reaction I was hoping to elicit. To me, a novel works when you think about it long after you’ve read the last page. Many episodes in our lives end on a somewhat incomplete note. By the end of this book, I had said what I had to. If this has left you with a sense of curiosity about how the characters’ lives will turn out, I take that as a compliment. I never intended to close all loops perfectly.

What was the intention behind creating familiar characters like the peanut seller, Jyotirmoy, or the taxi driver, Fatima?

I love these secondary characters, sometimes even more than the protagonists. The latter has the burden of carrying the story forward. These smaller characters, however, come and go, but are no less important. They can convey humor, sensitivity, and even angst, without forcing the central narrative. When done right, they can shape a novel into a tapestry of richer variety and complexity.-

Who was the most difficult character for you to define?

I won’t say it was difficult, but I did more work on Sabita
(a cook who lives with her teenage son). No Way In is her story. It would have been too easy to cast her in the predictable role of a victim, but she is so much more.

Despite your background as a financial journalist, what makes you dabble in topics as diverse as crime and mental illness?

Financial journalism has been my career, but writing is a joy for me. We live in a society that has lost its way and, in a way, writing puts me in touch with my conscience.

What are you writing next?

Probably Neville Wadia’s second novel set in Goa.

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