Novel to be Adapted for the Indian Stage

6 May 2010

Mrs D’Silva’s Detective Instincts and the Shaitan of Calcutta  (Parthian), last year’s debut novel by Glen Peters, is to be transformed into a new stage play in partnership with Kolkata’s Tin Can, with the help of a grant from the British Council.

A murder mystery set in 1960s Calcutta, the novel tells the story of the young widow Mrs Joan D’Silva, whose detective instincts lead her into a dangerous underground world of corruption, violence, sexual exploitation and political unrest.

Based on Glen’s own experiences of growing up within the Anglo-Indian community in a newly independent, vibrant but uncertain nation. He was inspired to write it when he recalled a childhood memory of discovering the dead body of a young woman by the River Ganges.

The book was published in June 2009 by  Parthian,  an independent publisher based in Wales. It was launched at Waterstone’s Piccadilly, London and at Rhosygilwen Arts Centre in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and toured bookshops, libraries and community gatherings across the UK.

Mrs D’Silva was bestseller of the month at Pages of Hackney bookshop in London, and was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize in July 2009. Glen Peters will be appearing at the 2010 Asia House  Festival of Asian Literature  in London this May.

The book has been praised for ‘its vivid evocation of a bygone era’, its ‘warmth and vitality’, and its rich descriptions of Indian cuisine, landscape and culture. It’s been described as ‘a gripping crime thriller’ and ‘an absolute gem of a novel’. An Indian publishing deal is to be announced soon.

Now the British Council has awarded a development grant from the  ‘Connections Through Culture’ scheme  to Parthian to develop a stage adaptation of the book, in partnership with Tin Can performance and visual arts company - known for its groundbreaking work in English, Hindi and Bengali theatre in Kolkata.

This May, the author – along with playwright Lewis Davies, theatre director Rebecca Gould and Indian-Irish actress Shereen Martineau – will spend a week in Kolkata working on adapting the novel for the stage, in workshops conducted by Soumyak Kanti De Biswas.

Glen Peters and other members of the creative team will be appearing at  Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, Kolkata,  on  Wednesday 12 May.  They will read extracts from the novel and the playscript, and discuss the challenges and experiences of adapting a novel for the stage, plus the relationship between the Anglo-Indian community in Kolkata and in the UK. All are welcome to come and join the discussion.

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