BookLife Talks with Prakash Lothe
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'The Defender of the Faith'Proving that those closest to us can provide the greatest inspiration, Lothe’s debut novel was heavily influenced by his father and contains age-old themes of generational divides.
After a career in medicine, why did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve loved to write and tell stories since I was in sixth grade. I wrote my first travelogue when I was in my second year of medical school, and my first story was published when I was a medical intern in India. My medical career took over my life for the next 20 years, but I resumed writing as I settled into my medical practice. Honestly, writing was a hobby, never a profession, to me. I’ve written many short stories, humorous plays, and articles during the last 25 years, mostly in my mother tongue but also some in English. In short, I never “decided” to be a writer; it just came to me out of my passion for self-expression via words.
What inspired The Defender of the Faith?
The Defender of the Faith was inspired by a casual remark my father made to me when I was in junior high. He said he had wanted to convert to Christianity when he was a college student. The remark haunted me for a long time. I found out the reason many years later, and that became my first novel.
If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be and why?That someone definitely would be my father, if he were alive. That is why the book is dedicated to him. I believe he was the architect of my success in life, and I still feel extremely indebted to him.
How do you think this book is relevant now?
Cultural conflicts are always relevant to any period in history and so are father-son confrontations. Most readers of this novel will discover that they also endured some degree of antipathy and confrontation with their parents because of a cultural divide or the generation gap.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I am. I’m thinking about writing a novel based upon the mythological character Bhishma in the great Indian epic Mahabharat. Bhishma personifies a conflict between quality of life and quantity of life. As the great patriarch of the Kuru dynasty of ancient India, he was given the boon of eternal life by his father. But the gift came to haunt him and turned his life into a heartbreaking tragedy. Bhishma's life truly represents the modern-day dilemma of quality of life, on the one hand, and the choice to prolong life via technological advances, on the other.