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Interview with Ken Doyle, author of Bombay Bhel

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Bombay Bhel, a collection of short fiction, is named after the city’s ubiquitous snack food, bhelpuri. Like the food, Bombay Bhel blends a variety of ingredients to serve up glimpses of life among the Goan and Anglo-Indian communities–minorities in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. The interlinked stories are set in the late twentieth century, before a wave of anticolonialism crested across India and resulted in the city’s rechristening. Each story in this debut collection offers a taste of the rhythm and verve of Bombay life.

So what characters do we meet in these stories?
Each story has its own main character. They range in background from a street vendor to a tenth-grade schoolboy to a grandmother living alone. However, the stories are connected by the common theme of life among the Goan and Anglo-Indian communities. They are also loosely connected by the characters themselves: for example, a minor character in one story could be a major character in another.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
The primary audience who will appreciate the book is people of Indian origin, especially those with ties to the city of Bombay (now called Mumbai). However, in a broader sense, the book will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading short stories with a multicultural flavor.

Complete this sentence for us: if you like _________________, you’ll love Bombay Bhel.
I don’t mean to imply I’m in the same class as these authors, because this is my debut work–especially Lahiri, whose debut collection of short fiction won a Pulitzer. However, if you like reading Jhumpa Lahiri, Vikram Chandra, or Rohinton Mistry, you’ll love my book.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Bombay, into a family with Portuguese and Anglo-Indian roots. I moved to the USA for graduate studies and currently am in the process of moving to central Delaware with my wife, daughter, and dog. One of my early short stories, written at the age of sixteen, was selected for inclusion in an anthology of Indian science fiction. These days, my writing spans several genres, including literary fiction and science fiction for young adults.  To pay the bills, I currently run a scientific, technical, and medical writing agency (Loquent LLC), but–like most writers–I dream of the day when I can make a living writing fiction.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?
http://www.kenneth-doyle.com.

How can we follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook?
Twitter: @DoyleKen
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/author.kendoyle.

What’s next?
I’m working on a short story that will serve as a tie-in to Bombay Bhel. After that, I have two YA novels in very rough drafts that need a lot of work. They’re in a completely different genre from my current book, so it will be an interesting experience!

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