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Shillong author’s new book delves into streets of Delhi

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SHILLONG, April 9: Shillong author Ankush Saikia, renowned for his gripping crime thrillers, has released his 10th book titled A Natural History of Violence, marking a departure from his usual settings to delve into the streets of Delhi.
This novella, self-published as an e-book on Amazon, follows a young man with a troubled past who commits a heinous crime, intertwining the narrative with the life of a female journalist assigned to the case.
Saikia explained to The Shillong Times that his decision to self-publish stemmed from his desire to explore shorter narratives, finding inspiration from his earlier e-book ventures.
Saikia said, “I had put up two of my older books — to which I had got back the rights — as e-books on Amazon (Jet City Woman and Red River. Blue Hills); after I wrote this novella (A Natural History of Violence) of a little more than 100 pages, I thought of putting it up as an e-book on Amazon too, as publishers usually look for lengthier narratives. The response so far has been encouraging.”
While the novella primarily unfolds in Delhi, Saikia emphasised its Shillong connection, introducing a pivotal character from the scenic hill town.
Adding that the book has a Shillong connection, he said, “There is a girl from Shillong who forms a crucial part of the story: as someone present at the beginning, and whom the journalist talks to regarding her boyfriend. She is also there at the end of the story as events come full circle.”
Reflecting on the significance of settings in his writing, he mentioned the role of places like Shillong, Delhi, and pre-partition Calcutta as stages for his characters to unfold their stories.  In his 2013 book, The Girl from Nongrim Hills that gained a lot of acclaim, the plot was about a group of criminals, masquerading as militants, are eliminated by the police at the behest of a specific minister shortly before the assembly elections. This occurs once the individuals have served their purpose for the minister in the state’s coal-rich region.
As Saikia likes to call it, his stories are grounded in reality, and the only thing invented is the plot.
For aspiring authors considering self-publishing, Saikia advises building a portfolio and establishing an online presence to enhance visibility, drawing from his own experience as an established author. He also hints at his upcoming self-published novel, set against the backdrop of late ’80s Shillong, promising another intriguing narrative for his readers.
The title ‘A Natural History of Violence’ pays homage to the late German writer WG Sebald, with Saikia finding inspiration from Sebald’s book of essays. Explaining his choice of setting, Saikia reveals his fascination with Delhi’s aptness for crime fiction and his desire to explore new narrative dimensions compared to his previous works.

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