Author’s Corner: With Sudha Shah

Posted: October 22, 2012

Interview with author Sudha Shah on her new book The King In Exile. 

Sudha Shah is a Mumbai-based writer who, after years of extensive research has written The King In Exile. Although Burma is our neighbouring country, very little is known about the history and the last ruler of Burma. The King In Exile promises to be an engrossing read on the fall of Burma’s royal family.  

What made you write a book on Burma’s royal family? How did your interest in this subject come about?

I loved Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace in which he wrote about the royal family of Burma. After reading the book, I was very curious about the family. How did this once all-powerful and very wealthy family cope with their loss and exile to remote Ratnagiri in India? Once the exile ended, what happened to the four princesses who had had almost no education or exposure while growing up?

I initially started researching the subject to satisfy my own curiosity, but soon discovered that, other than the occasional newspaper and magazine article, hardly anything had been written about the family after their kingdom had been lost to the British in 1885. This was a book begging to be written!

What was the hardest thing about writing The King In Exile?

I wanted to write my book as a human-interest story, not as a historical record of events. I was keen to have a strong story line, so that the reader would be curious to know what happened next.  The most challenging aspect of writing this book, therefore, was trying to craft a compelling story out of the reams of material accessed by me—archival material, personal interviews, books, newspaper and magazine accounts etc. 

The King In Exile has many important female characters; how well were you able to relate to them? If you were a man, would you have written the book with a different perspective?

I tried to step into each of their shoes — including King Thibaw’s. I tried to see things from their point of view. I related better to some of the characters than to others, but I empathized with all of them. I really don’t know if I would have written the book from a different perspective had I been a man, but I don’t think so because I don’t see my point of view in the book as being particularly ‘female’.

Who was the first to read The King In Exile? What was their first reaction?

My husband, Pradip and son, Karan. They found my manuscript interesting and were positive in their feedback. But they’re family, and perhaps they found it hard to be objective!

One book you would love to have written?

Since you ask for only one book, I’ll go with To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. Why this book? Because it’s a book that is beautifully written and tells a timeless, thought-provoking story. It’s a book that influenced me as a teenager, and captivates me as an adult.

Future literary plans? 

I want to write another book — I’m following a couple of leads, but it’s too premature to discuss them as yet.

*Photo credit: Sudha Shah.

Now dear readers, a book giveaway for you!

Answer this question: Which royal or famous family in the world fascinates you the most? Why?

Just leave your answer as a comment below – and the best comment will get a signed copy of The King In Exile!

Please note: Only 1 comment per person. The book can only be sent to a valid address in India. Giveaway closes on 9 AM IST 29th Oct 2012.

So what are you waiting for? Comment away!

Update: Giveaway Closed.

And the winner is Nidhi Chandna! Congrats!

Previous Interviews in Author’s Corner:

Ayesha Salman of Blue Dust

Shefalee Vasudev of Powder Room

Tuhina Varshney of I’m Not Afraid Of GDPI

Yashodhara Lal of Just Married, Please Excuse

Rashmi Bansal of Poor Little Rich Slum

Meghna Pant of One & A Half Wife

Eowyn Ivey of The Snow Child

Shakti Salgaokar of Imperfect Mr.Right

Himani Vashishta of Princess of Falcons

Lata Gwalani of Incognito

Nina Godiwalla of Suits

Urvashi Gulia of My Way Is The Highway

Kiran Manral of The Reluctant Detective

Ameera Al Hakawati of Desperate In Dubai

Judy Balan of Two Fates

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  1. Kind In Exile sounds like a a fiction with a bit of history thrown in. I would love to read it.The family that fascinates me is the English Royal Family. I read up on them, and have struggled to understand their complicated family ties!

    As a kid, the first royal family I ever heard of the Nepal Monarchy, during the great massacre. I would love to know more on it, but there is very limited material!

  2. hello , i think the famous family in the world which fascinates me the most is the Bachchan family because its an Indian family (i am not at all biased)….and a joint family…..which show us the power of unity ….n i like the way they behave in society, as they always go together everywhere…..i don’t know them personally….n i don’t know their individual personality traits….and i don’t even know how they talk to people ….because i didn’t get any opportunity to meet them….but as a family….which is the issue…..they are best….atleast as far as we know about them from media….that’s why i always like to hear about their “family issues”.


  3. The Nepal royal family fascinates me…with the 2001 tragedy where almost the entire family was massacred by the prince before he committed suicide…the stories of some curse around the family…the political upheaval in the country, the rise of democracy….relationship with India and China…there are so many hidden secrets that I would love to know and read about in a story form. Nepal is right next to us and probably the most friendly neighbour, we share so much in common, yet we know so little 🙂

  4. Guess for me its the Kennedy’s.Wonder what the “curse” is that generations are having such tragic ends….there’s tragedy, romance, illicit relationships, failures, success’s….

  5. Spanish Royalty through the centuries, woven together and intertwined with the rest of Europe, colourful and dark…

  6. Vanshika Amarnani -

    The king in exile sounds like a fascinating book. The royal family I would love know n read about is d Al Saud family which is the Saudi Royal family. Well 1stly d middle eastern culture is alien to us. How does one king handle so many wives n so many children. The apparent diffrerence they have between sons and daughters, their religious beliefs, their wedding customs its all very different and has a certain pull 2 it. The sheer amount of wealth they have is jst stupid I mean what do dey do wid it. Its like they are in a world of their own n that is y I would like their world 2 be penetrated n more information is known 2 us lessar mortals…

  7. A royal family is extended family of king and queen. In our country I consider Nehru-Feroz Gandhi family is equivalent to royal family as they are ruling as
    in parts from over 60years ( minus few other government which comes in between. I would love to read about this most famous Indian political
    family which is ruling India and dominating the fate of World’s largest democratic county.
    Want to know ups and downs faced and sequence of event which made good Indian political family to turn into
    most corrupted family. Particularly i want to know about Sonia Gandhi , how she become so powerful despite being
    from pitful background of mason father and job as waitress . Does marriage in powerful family makes you
    intelligent enough to run a country or was she capable from beginning

  8. first of all i would like to congratulate for ur book,,personally i would like to know about the Nehru-fer oz Gandhi family,,who have produced three prime ministers from the family ,,and where two members from the same family were assassinated and the assassination not only shook the whole country but in a way the whole world,,,i would love to know how Sonia Gandhi an alien t this country adjusted so well in this culture but also got the opportunity to become prime minister,,how Rahul Gandhi with his charismatic personality is not only the heart throb of the gals but also of the common people,,,i have been hearing about the controversies of this family since childhood and there has been a discussion about this family at very nook and corner,,this is the family every common Indian can talk of ,,so according this is one of the most justified family which should be know more……..

  9. I would love to read this book. Just like the author, I would love to know about the dynasties and the the families who lost their name and fame with time, bahadur shah jafar, sirajudaulla, tipu sultan, Ahilya devi and holkar family of Meheswar etc. We hardly follow them and their family lines anymore. I would also like to know more about the women of these families. In modern era Subhash Chandra Bose and his family interests me a lot because of so much of ambiguity about his life.

  10. Would like to know more about the Assam Royalty. Especially the Ahom Dynasty. So little known about them. The subject of your book makes me curious to find out more!

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