The Beast with Nine Billion Feet

The Beast with Nine Billion Feet, By Anil Menon

As Anil Menon mentions in his interview over at SF Signal, his first book, a YA novel called The Beast with Nine Billion Feet, is out from Zubaan in India.  It is a great and complex yarn, unafraid of such things as Big Ideas, politics, Sanskrit poetry, Swedish exclamations, German jokes and family relationships.  Not to mention wild, cool future-tech.  (Full disclosure: I blurbed it, but you should read it anyway). 

Anil’s not sure about a sequel, which means people have to read the book and badger him until he writes one. 

In the meantime I asked him a couple of questions.

 The book’s had a longish birthing process and is finally, truly, out in the bookstores in India now.  How do you feel? 

Now that the book is out, there’s this feeling I haven’t totally wasted my life. Whether my readers love it or feed it to their goats, it’s a real, tangible something that they will love or hate. Now I can plan all sorts of fun adventures: exiles, deluges, virgin births, covenants, revelations… I think I’ll rest for a day.

Why did you decide to publish the book in India? 

There was never any doubt that the Beast would be an Indian book. I’m hoping the book will circumnavigate the world of course– there’s stuff in it Germans will love— but I wanted the road-trip to begin in India. I was confident I could find a publisher in the States and that the book would be marketed in India, sooner or later. But a novel from another land is always a traveler’s tale, and I didn’t want my book to be a traveler’s tale in India. I grew up on traveler’s tales, and desi kids still do, so yeah.

Yeah!  Time for a sequel, yaar. 

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6 Responses to “The Beast with Nine Billion Feet”

  1. Hari Batti Says:

    I enjoyed this book very much and am working on a review of it right now for The Green Light Dhaba, where I write. I expect to post it either this coming Thursday or a week from Today. I love to see literature that makes us think, and I think speculative fiction is one place where that can happen. This book is, of course, an effective adventure. But it raises issues that are vitally important in the larger world as well: genetic engineering, the plight of farmers, etc.

    Nice to meet you.

    (And I appreciate what you wrote about Copenhagen. Did not turn out well, but in retrospect, I’m not sure a real solution was ever really on the agenda.)

    • vsinghsblog Says:

      Hari, nice to meet you too. I checked out Green Light Dhaba and really enjoyed the site. Folks, it is here: http://www.greenlightdhaba.org/.

      I happened to sign the petition about Bt Brinjal earlier. I am fond of my Biagan Bharta and I want to keep it the way it is meant to be. Grrrowl!

      About Copenhagen: well, even though there wasn’t much hope that the powers that be would actually come up with something useful, it seems that it gave the world movement, particularly the young people, an important opportunity to meet and network and strengthen each other. These intangibles will, I hope, lead to something concrete…

  2. Kurt Says:

    I’m well into it now–it’s my breakfast read. I, too, am really enjoying the combo of thinking person’s adventure, relevant issues, and rich world building. Since I’m not from India, the contextual aspects (voice, landscape, etc.) make it even more interesting. You can tell that Anil has read his literature along with knowing his science–there are times where it feels like the style is lifted (at bit) from 19th century lit–at least in the chapters so far for Tara, and he does a nice job of giving not only each character their own voice but also gives the chapters for each characters a somewhat unique (but not clashing) style that helps describe the character–a nifty and subtle meta descriptive tactic.

    • vsinghsblog Says:

      Hello, Kurt,

      Yes, one of the most enjoyable things about the book is how richly textured it is in terms of its content, themes, atmospheric world-building. Anil is one of the most disgustingly knowledgeable and thoughtful people I know, so this is not surprising. Thus the book is thought provoking and uncomfortable and moving, especially in its descriptions of family dynamics. Why do people do what they do? Why do siblings find themselves on opposite (or different) sides of things?

      Wish the guy would write the sequel.

  3. Kurt Says:

    I see that Beast is now available on Amazon. Is Anil helping Zubaan get distribution in the US, at least via Amazon–does that mean we’ll see “The Woman Who Thought She Was A Planet” available here, too? Or are you working a deal with a US publisher?

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