With setting of Goa in the background , Mathew Vincent Menacherry is back to engage the readers with his exciting second Novel Feni Daze (Pegasus Publishers, UK), which is a love story. The plot careens through the tourist scene in Goa, filled with underage bartenders, drug peddlers, corrupt politicians, and their wayward progeny. It also delves into Punjab at the height of the insurgency.
Here in a free- wheeling interview Mathew talks about his Latest book and more.
Q. Why the Title Feni Daze ?what does it convey to the Readers ?
A : “Feni” is an alcoholic beverage, made from the cashew fruit, which is the hero’s drink of choice during his tryst in Goa with his former girlfriend. “Haze” suggests his state of mind during this trip, owing to the fact that he consumes so much of it.
Q The plot is set in Goa, what made you choose the place?
A : I have been visiting Goa for a long time now and felt that I knew the place well enough to write about it. It’s a real paradise, what with the beaches, the food, the people and the culture, but it does have an ugly side to it, which is what I have tried to bring out in this book.
Q What is it that makes Goa special and which are the places you recommend one should visit as a tourist ?
A : To be honest, I’ve mostly done the tourist thing in Goa – swum in the ocean, pigged out in the restaurants, and, of course, got sloshed on feni.
If you wish to get away from the crowds, you could try the beaches up north, like Mandrem and Morjim, or Palolem in South Goa. As far as food goes, Florentine in Bardez is a personal favourite.
Q From your first Novel Arrack to Feni Daze. How has the journey been so far ?
A: It has been long and meandering. The truth is that writing is hard work, and the thought of sitting down for a few hours to write still gives me the jitters.
Hemingway once wrote that there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Most writers would concur with that statement.
Q If I am right your debut novel was out ten years ago. How did it feel to get back to writing again. ?
A : Very scary. Every time you sit down to write there is the very real fear that nothing will emerge, that the words will not form on the screen/paper.
Q In your second innings did you think you need to change your writing style?
A : I feel now that my debut novel, Arrack in the Afternoon, is a trifle overwritten, which is quite common with first books actually. In my second novel, I have tried to be more concise. In a sense, I have tried to play more with ideas and less with words.
Q What is Feni Daze all about ? What would a reader find in the book ?
A : Sex and violence, coupled with angst, lots of alcohol and a bit of romance – a perfect Bollywood potboiler really.
Q Which sort of stories tempt you to write and you enjoy most?
A : I like to delve into the sleazier aspects of places and people, what drives them, their dreams and desires. In terms of the stories I enjoy, I would say any well-written tale with a dramatic arc and flow. Language to me is very important. A story needs to be gripping, and also well told.
Q Who are your favourite Indian authors and the reason why?
A : Shashi Tharoor is a personal favourite, a master of both language and narrative.
I thought Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger was a spectacular piece of writing, as was Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People. William Dalrymple is another writer I greatly admire and his latest book, The Anarchy, is just fabulous.
Q As an author how encouraging it is now to see despite various distractions like the mobile phones and internet, there is a audience for books and various lit fests around the country ?
A : I find that young people read fewer books these days, precisely because of the internet and television. Attention spans are shorter and several alternate avenues of entertainment have emerged, which are less taxing and perhaps more immersive.
Despite this, many more books are being published and more stories are being told, so that’s encouraging. Also, E-readers and mobile phones have made books cheaper and more accessible, which is wonderful.