Nayanika Mahtani now finds that she is an author and a screenwriter. Which, she also finds, is quite a fun thing to be.
Nayanika's debut novel, Ambushed, an adventure set in tiger territory in the Himalayan foothills, was published by Puffin in April 2015. All royalties from Ambushed go towards a school for the children of former poachers, to give them a window to alternate livelihoods.
Her next book is The Gory Story of Genghis Khan a.k.a. Don't Mess with the Mongols. It is not a sequel to Ambushed because Genghis Khan wanted a book all to himself. And Nayanika has learnt not to mess with him.
Incidentally, Genghis has been riding high on Amazon - he ranked second in Amazon's bestselling new releases, after Percy Jackson. (Genghis Khan is not amused by this Percy chap, as you can imagine.)
Nayanika's next story featured in an anthology: The Puffin Book of Holiday Stories - a collection of short stories by Indian authors including Ruskin Bond, Rabindranath Tagore and Sudha Murty.
Nayanika has also co-written a film script based on the extraordinary true story of the 'Human Computer', Shakuntala Devi, who will be played by the very talented Vidya Balan. The film is set for a summer 2020 release.
Nayanika's latest book, Across the Line, is rooted in the Partition of the subcontinent - a tale of borders and beliefs, shaped by the games people play. With two intercutting storylines, one set in 1947 and one in the more recent past, this story's protagonists are a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who dreams of being an international cricketer and a 14-year-old Indian boy who hopes to open his own cafe one day.
Nayanika is now working on her next book as well as on a couple of scripts. Do watch this space.
" This evocative tale of heartache buoyed by hope, travels from 1947 towards the present, tugging at our heartstrings and sweeping us along. A compelling and uplifting story that lingers long after the last page is turned."
Writer, Faculty Member- Habib University, Karachi, Co-Founder of the Karachi Lit Fest
"PARTITION AND BEYOND: Continuing and unrelenting, the series of events leading to the Partition and beyond, is still unfolding, haunting our imagination with its taste of ash and smoke. From making paper boats to lost homes with mango trees, the young people in this finely crafted story are like friends, but their lives are framed by a dark line drawn by an Englishman in a hurry to wash his hands of everything. Such lines cannot be undone by wishing them away and yet this book lights a candle of hope and peace."
Academy Award Winning Filmmaker, Journalist, Activist
"Nayanika takes us through two different timelines and unveils the entrancing stories of two people across the border. This story is a tribute to all the unsung heroes who have fought silent battles even after the Partition."
Asma Said Khan:
Indian Born British Chef, Restaurateur, Author, Philanthropist
"I love the voices in this book. They are so familiar- the wry comment-the humour-the unspoken words. The grief. The resilience. I love how the stories are narrated- against a bloodied and scarred background- the everyday conversations are so beautifully written. A much needed book at a time where hatred of the “other” has become endemic in many societies- where leaders talk about walls and not about communities. ."