Saturday, November 15, 2014

A truly humbling review in Indian Express

"On April 23, 1998, Manan Mehta, 15 years and three-quarters old , finds proof that evolution has not passed him by and that puberty, as the rest of world experiences it, has begun for him as well. It is a momentous occasion even though he is still quite short for his age, his voice hasn’t even begun to crack and everybody treats him like a child. With his body changing slowly but surely, Manan’s mind is racing with ideas about the world around him, school, biology, his family and Hriya, the girl he hopes to be worthy of.
Manan is not perfect but it is a very impressive debut. Parikh demonstrates a deft hand at painting a picture of life in middle-class India in the late ’90s and lends his protagonist a voice that rings true, page after page. Thanks to television, magazines and popular YA fiction, the teenage girl’s experiences are well documented — Manan is an original look at a young boy’s world, much like the first Adrian Mole books. A keen observer, a compulsive problem-solver and a dreamer with his feet firmly on the ground, Manan Mehta is the boy we all know, the person we all can be. If only we could dare to be as hopeful about life with as little as a single hair." 

See more at:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love you, Eckhart!

Thank you for giving me a second life!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

An excerpt of Manan appears in The Bombay Review

‘Is that you, Manan?’ Taiji’s voice from behind the window of her bedroom.

Has she been waiting there to pounce on him? ‘Yes, Taiji.’

‘Tauji is calling you.’

‘In a minute, Taiji.’

Quickly he hides behind the veranda pillar and then crawls on all fours into the side alley. Here, under the shadow of the porch and out of Taiji’s sight, and away from those idiots inside. Tauji is calling him – so what? Why should he answer their calls? He is a full, complete human being, not a toy, not a massage machine: why is he given orders when he never gives orders to them? He closes his eyes and, seething with anger, to vindicate his disregard for Taiji’s request, he summons up an image of a dhoti-clad Tauji lying half asleep on his round belly. The room smelling of iodex and farts. He is asked to climb over Tauji, rather Tauji’s hairy back, and, deeming any show of unwillingness as out of keeping, he does so. Cautiously he treads: from the naked upper back to the naked, sweaty lower back, over the hips to the unstable, wobbly thighs, and quickly onto the calves; the same way up with an about-turn. Tauji farts from time to time and he has to smell the hydrogen sulphide: his hands are stretched for balance, and for how long can one hold one’s breath? This … is wrong. Illegal. Child labour. He could be playing videogames or catch-a-catch, he could be preparing for the debate or dreaming of chance meetings with Hriya – doing things much more useful than this. Why should he go then? When will this sequence stop?

35kg – this is what Tauji is exploiting. 140cm, 35kg, his comfortable smallness. Not for too long then. Puberty will put an end to all these matters soon.

To read the full excerpt, click here.

Click here to purchase the book.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I like Sakaal Times' review of Manan

'Manan by Mohit Parikh is a charming story based in the late ’90s. The protagonist Manan is a teenager who is just getting acquainted with puberty. He cannot wait to grow up.

The story takes you through the everyday life of the 10th grader. The lectures in school, the street food outside school, friendship and all other nuances of a teenager’s life – Manan has it all to take you on a nostalgic ride. For a debutant, Mohit displays some noteworthy detailing skills and that makes it very easy for you to put yourself in Manan’s shoes and get lost in his train of thought.

However, it is also a slow-paced and over-detailed tale that does not specifically stress on the ‘story’ aspect. It focuses more on the literary brilliance of the author. For readers who are used to fast-paced thrillers or popular genres, Manan will prove to be a monotonous read. But for those who do not mind a light read and enjoy the small things in a story, it may bring a smile on their lips, once in a while.

Where the author scores is in his portrayal of characters. All of them have been etched with absolute clarity. The book doesn’t challenge the readers’ imagination much but makes them empathise with the characters. Since everything is viewed from a teenager’s perspective, it provides a fresh and simple approach. There are times when Manan’s thoughts almost coincide with the 15-year-old in you.

Overall, Manan is a light read for those who prefer a small afternoon or bedtime read sans drama and unnecessary anticipation.'

Review in HT Brunch

'Read it for a trip back to the 90s' - HT Brunch

Review of Manan in The Sunday Tribune

"GROWING pains of an adolescent boy is the subject of Mohit Parikh's Manan. For a boy who harbours an inferiority complex for being short, the onset of puberty is like the trump card that will set his game right. Jubilant as the first signs greet him, he awaits with unabated breath the signs of growing up, changing voice and all other things that come with puberty. Mohit Parikh has been published in Identity Theory, Out of Print Magazine, Burrow Press Review and The Bombay Literary Magazine, among others and Manan is his first book. The book paints a vivid picture of the average Indian home, with the dynamics of husband-wife relationship, sibling chemistry and the toll that the very suggestion of a love marriage can take, pitched against a backdrop of a boy's wait at the precipice of manhood. From the inane jokes that Manan, the protagonist, shares with his friends, to his imagination that runs riot, there is a lot to keep you very engrossed."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At Pune International Literary Festival

With Anjum Rajaballi and Pubali Chaudhuri, on 'Difficulties of Adapting Screenplays from Novels'

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Asian Review of Books reviews Manan

(from the website)

7 October 2014 — Mohit Parikh’s debut young adult novel, Manan, is full of introspection and awakenings of both a physical and psychological nature. Protagonist Manan, fourteen years old, is at the top of his class but remains one of the smallest students among his male peers. But at the beginning of the book, Manan has just made a thrilling discovery:

…today, oblivious to everyone, there is a hair standing tall inside his shorts: a single hair, long, black and shiny. Sprouting out of nowhere, it stands rebelliously erect on his tiny barren orb, not thwarted by the force of the cloth of his underwear, announcing its eventual arrival with élan.

Manan’s first pubic hair prompts him to speculate on human nature, and in particular, the adult preoccupation with sex. Coinciding with these thoughts is the advent of regular Internet use—it’s 1998—and Manan’s introduction to the world of online porn. Struggling to suppress his urge to explore seemingly endless realms of cyber-eroticism, Manan finds himself embroiled in burgeoning adulthood, along with a host of new doubts and fears.

Manan is hardly a typical bildungsroman. Parikh’s stream-of-consciousness prose style departs from the fast-paced, action-packed voices found in many contemporary YA titles. A truly pensive soul, Manan constantly analyzes, reevaluates, and fixates—almost obsessively—on every detail. He may not be as angst-ridden as other teenage protagonists, but he is absorbed with the quandaries of everyday life, and his scrutiny often yields an unexpected level of profundity. Once privy to the shortcomings of adults and their inane priorities, Manan comes to a harsh realization:

Among the many things that are happening inside him, one that he identifies lucidly is a loss of respect for all elders. They will never again be venerable. Not even his teachers. They are liars, wrongdoers, and they don’t deserve to be looked up to.

Readers unused to such constant philosophical reckonings may find Manan plodding and lacking plot, and its title character exasperating in his endless quest to hypothesize, probe, and assess. Fortunately, the playfulness written into Manan’s mental exertions—punctuated by Urmila Shastry’s charming illustrations, as well as a number of handy charts—keeps the novel’s tone light yet relevant. Ultimately, Manan is a charming rendezvous through the mindscape of a boy who never stops thinking—and might trigger you to think a little deeper as well.

Mia Warren currently produces radio for KRTS 93.5 FM in Marfa, Texas. From 2013-14, she was a Fulbright Fellow researching the Japanese Peruvian population.

Click here to land on the ARB page 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jim Luthra's Blog: Book Review: Manan by Mohit Parikh

Jim Luthra's Blog: Book Review: Manan by Mohit Parikh: "The best thing about the book was that it was light and simple, it explained everything well and stood to the point. There was humor, pain, awkward moments and total fun."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Another lovely review of Manan, by LiveMint

LiveMint describes it as a "charming tale of growing up in an Indian city in the 90s"

Here's the link to the review:

Once again, pasted below in full without permission :)

We have been there, done that. This, in large part, is the draw of Mohit Parikh’s debut novel Manan, which gives a realistic account of a few significant days in the life of a teenage boy, growing up in an Indian city in the 1990s. 
A late bloomer, the eponymous hero is sent into a tizzy by a wonderful (for him), though ordinary (otherwise), discovery: his first pubic hair. To Manan, it appears to be an answer to all his prayers. It is a remedy to the grave injustice that he sticks out among his peers, not having shot up—in spite of being the “eighth-oldest” person in his class and aged fifteen-and-a-three-quarter years. That he does not know as much about sex as his friends do is more humiliation than he can bear. The hair encourages him to address this lack of knowledge immediately. 
But sex isn’t the only thing on his mind, where Super Mario video games, a constant war on his family’s superstitious beliefs, and real-life applications of scientific truths also jostle for space. Parikh makes it easy to slip under Manan’s skin, painting his inner world through daydreams. Everyday triggers, like the school bell announcing the end of lunch break, spark elaborate feats of visualization in him. He doesn’t just respond by rushing back to class, but takes a moment to consider how the sound travels in waves, ricocheting off the walls and ceilings, seeping through the floors, before setting his own eardrums vibrating. 
The illustrations by Urmila Shastry work well to supplement Parikh’s descriptions though, more often than not, readers won’t need these to imagine the scenes. One of the more interesting artworks, printed across two pages, shows a convergence of several things. At this moment in the story, Manan has been told off by his mother for eating mangoes on the veranda in case he catches the evil eye, when he “imagines an evil eye wandering in the crowd, a large single transparent human eye visible to no one but him. It makes searching sweeps, left to right, right to left, searching for those who eat indecorously or outside. The eye stops in front of him: locks him as a target and focuses all its laser power on his stomach to trouble his digestive system. He makes Mario jump on it and crush it out of life.” In the drawing, a giant human eye—the kind of diagram readers may remember making in biology class at school—is shown walking towards Manan in a parody of the superstitious evil eye, as Mario uses a wall for leverage, presumably to jump on the offending eye. 
Parikh exercises restraint throughout. The language, while descriptive, is never excessive or showy. Fragments such as “Incisors, molars, swallow” pithily describe Manan eating a snack. Students play “answer sheets aeroplane” after class. Not only do you get what Parikh means, better still you see it in the mind’s eye. Most young-adult novels try to create new worlds. Manan tries to recreate a world most of us have lived in. Parikh achieves this by peppering the narrative with detail. Some of the incidents, such as Manan skipping a day of school or spotting the girl he likes at the market, are universal enough to speak to any generation. 
Other episodes, such as the time he reads R.K. Narayan’s The Missing Mail at school, or speaks of the Internet cafés just beginning to open in Indian cities, or describes the canteens, corridors, classrooms and clubs, may resonate with those who grew up in the last years of the 20th century. Such readers may be left with the feeling of having known someone like Manan in their teenage years. Or having been such a teen themselves.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Manan reviewed by The Sunday Guardian

"Mohit Parikh's debut novel is an eloquent, sensitive and restrained look at the onset of puberty. Its earnest protagonist stays with you long after the last page is turned, says Aditya Mani Jha."

Check out the review at the newspaper website:

Pasted below in full too (without permission :|)

ADITYA MANI JHA  23rd Aug 2014

An Urmila Shastry illustration from Manan
hen you think about it, literary trends aren't that difficult to predict. The year is 2014. Young writers (say, from ages 25-35) today, including the ones beginning to find their feet, are likely to be teenagers (or pre-teens) at a crucial phase in India's history: 1991-2000. We're all fairly familiar with globalisation's effects on middle-class India, thanks to books like Butter Chicken in Ludhiana. The rise and rise of coalition politics has also been written about in some detail. As someone who was a young boy in the '90s, I can tell you that my generation was quite aware of the momentous changes that we saw all around us, the changes that we couldn't wait to immerse ourselves in. But the tricky part was taking our parents along with us, convincing them that the new world held only possibilities, that it would leave behind only those too weak or too stubborn to see them.
And so, in recent years, we've seen quite a few nostalgia-tinged first books about the '90s, the most gloriously tacky decade since Independence. Tharun James Jimani's debut novelCough Syrup Surrealism spoke about the '90s like one would describe a torrid, hard-to-forget affair. (Also, the protagonist's relationship with his parents was a bit of a lost cause.) But its protagonists were up to their eyeballs in psychedelic drugs, and hence had the license to hint at subliminal truths, cloaked in automatic, surrealist speech. While reading Jimani's novel, I felt myself wishing, more than once, for a glimpse of his characters as children. Oddball 20-somethings are likely to have been marvellously sensitive kids, in my (limited) experience. 
Mohit Parikh's superb debut novel Manan fills this space with aplomb. Through its titular 10th-grader's stream of consciousness (a nod towards the protagonist's name, which means "thinking" in Hindi), Parikh lays bare the insecurities of a boy who has just hit puberty. ("That day while, when bathing he has noticed a hair on his balls, and all his life's problems are in the past.") 
However, Manan is still short for his age, and over the telephone his voice is often mistaken for a woman's, much to his chagrin. When he asks his friends if they knew when his voice would crack, they are silent. There is a sense of awed complicity in his peers' silence, and this, I feel, has been captured particularly well by the author. It's a moment that feels familiar at a visceral level, yet manages to convey the isolation that Manan feels. (Later, he feels something similar at home when he starts changing clothes behind closed doors, and nobody seems to question this.) 
The restless imagination and the endless self-analysis of the bookish child lie at the heart of the narrative: Parikh’s achievement here lies in capturing a likely train of thought for such a 14-year-old.
"They go quiet. Shrey seems to be on the verge of saying something funny but Rajat shakes his head. He looks from one face to another: all at a loss for words, all discomfited by his inappropriateness. All making a concession to him: Manan, 140 cm, 35 kg, not Kshitij, not someone else, someone who is their equal, so they won't ridicule him. He hasn't yet earned the right to be ridiculed. And they understand this too well."
The restless imagination and the endless self-analysis of the bookish child lie at the heart of the narrative: Parikh's achievement here lies in capturing a likely train of thought for such a 14-year-old. This is also manifested in the way Manan rhapsodises about every little step on the path to adulthood. Consider, for instance, the following passage, where Manan is surveying the aforementioned hair on his balls, ad infinitum.
"The hair. Still defying gravity. Give it space and it will point toward the sky at seventy-five degrees, towards the evening star at twilight. The hair has germinated like those adamant trees, those that poke out of cracks in sewerage walls and fort walls and walls of old buildings, feeling their way through at odd angles for sunlight and air and stability. Geotropism. Phototropism. Thermotropism. Life finding its way. That's what the doctor inJurassic Park said."
also loved the way Manan tells us about the lives of the adults around. In some of my favourite books involving children (like David Mitchell's Black Swan Green or Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha), such a venture feels like spying on someone through a peep-hole, or listening through a closed door, the surreptitious air skilfully and gradually built up.
Manan has been observing, for instance, the way his cousin Pinky is not allowed inside the kitchen when she's menstruating. "It makes him want to ask her in their jovial argumentative way the reason for this cannot-in-be-the-kitchen practice, to make her agree that this is a stupid practice and therefore she is a stupid person because she observes this practice." However, he knows that he cannot question things openly, especially in the presence of his uncle. "In Tauji's presence, he must treat the women of the house as a man of the house must: from distance, through instructions."
The novel also anticipates the madness of the Internet era in a mischievous yet earnest way, describing it as "the puberty of society". Manan realises that this may be one of the few freely available sources of information that he has, but that it does not suit his tastes at all.
Finally, Manan features some very adorable illustrations by Urmila Shastry. I liked, in particular, how some of Manan's more macabre or surreal flights of fancy are drawn — through a very Wes Anderson-like whimsy rather than with any real darkness or intensity. Manan is highly recommended for everybody really, but particularly so for thinking teens such as the protagonist himself.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Manan's video trailer

Interesting last three days. We invaded cafes and malls and offices, disturbed the good people there and shot with them video trailers for Manan . Nice of them to acquiesce and to share some very personal incidents and opinions. The videos will be edited and ready by August 20, most likely. August 20 is also the day, fyi, when the book hits the book stores and all online retailers across India.

While there were all sorts of answers for questions on sexuality, puberty, exposure to information, growing up, relationship with parents and siblings, there was also an emphatic unanimous agreement: that small, precious world of 90s is lost; we are never going to relive those days.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stop being hard on yourself!

I am not a writer. I am a dreamer who actualizes a story through words. My writing regime does not - can not- consist of six hours of writing. It can consist of five and a half hours of dreaming and a half an hour of note taking. Things start from there.
Writing is the last thing in my writing. May I not forget that.