PERSONAL: Born in Delhi, India. Education: Attended St. Stephens College and University of Tulsa.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—c/o Author Mail, Penguin India, 11 Community Centre Panscheel Park, New Delhi, India, 110 017.
CAREER: Novelist and author of nonfiction. Journalist for publications, including Tulsa (OK) Tribune, Readers Digest, and Gentleman Magazine; Surya Magazine, editor; Centre (magazine), founder.
The Inscrutable Americans, Rupa & Co. (Calcutta, India), 1991, New World Library (Novato, CA), 1997.
Making the Minister Smile, ANB Publishers (New Delhi, India), 1996.
Are All Women Leg Spinners? Asked the Stephanian, Full Circle (Amherst, MA), 1998.
Scenes from an Executive Life, Penguin India (New Delhi, India), 2000.
(With Leela Kanuga and Sumita Paul) 22 Days in India: The Itinerary Planner, J. Muir Publications (Santa Fe, NM), 1988.
(With Leela Kanuga and Sumita Paul) India in Your Pocket: A Step-by-Step Guide and Travel Itinerary, Horizons (Plymouth, MA), 1989.
(Editor and contributor) India's Best Travel Writings, Rupa (New Delhi, India), 1994.
(Editor) A Portable India, Indus (New Delhi, India), 1994.
ADAPTATIONS: The Inscrutable Americans was adapted as a film directed by Siddharth Chandra, Tricolor Communications Inc., 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Anurag Mathur achieved breakthrough status with his first novel, which outsold even the novels of John Grisham in his native India. The Inscrutable Americans, the comic story of a young Indian student spending a year in America, offers a fresh look at the oddities of American society through the bewildered eyes of its hero, Gopal. In particular, Gopal marvels at the American obsession with sex, seemingly depicted on every street corner, launching his quest to lose his virginity before returning to India—a quest at which he barely succeeds. Mathur also addresses more serious themes in The Inscrutable Americans, including the significant differences between East and West, and American racism: Gopal experiences segregation at a restaurant and is nearly lynched when mistaken for an Iranian. Mathur's satire cuts both ways in the novel, poking fun at sex-crazed Americans as well as the earnest innocence of Gopal. Reviewing the book for Gujarat World, Nishant Shah wrote that the comedy of Gopal's efforts to find a willing partner "becomes a reflection upon the vast differences in the societies separated by the traditional 'Seven Seas.'" Shah concluded, "The novel traces Gopal's explorations of new values, ethics and principles and reflects the fact that 'what is, is what is.'"
The great success of The Inscrutable Americans in India led to the novel's American publication in 1997. In the meantime, Mathur continued writing novels, again depicting somewhat hapless young protagonists in Making the Minister Smile and Are All Women Leg Spinners? Asked the Stephanian. Neither book matched the success of The Inscrutable Americans, but with his fourth novel Mathur again found a large audience. Scenes from an Executive Life features a far-less-innocent protagonist in marketing executive Gambhir Kumar. Gambhir and his wife, Draupadi, enjoy a series of affairs while Gambhir tries to climb the corporate ladder. The novel begins when Gambhir is transferred to the Tissues and Toothpicks Division of Y Corporation. Through Gambhir's successes and failures, Mathur explores the politics and scheming of the corporate world.
In an interview for the Web site Delhi123.com Mathur said that the light tone of his works is a reflection of his personality. "I am such a person, down to earth and very casual. And this certainly reflects in my writing. I write exactly the way I am . . . if anyone wants to know me, all that they have to do is read my books." Mathur also revealed that he had another novel planned, but added, "The subject is a secret." Mathur is also the co-author and editor of several works about India, including two travel guidebooks, and two anthologies of nonfiction essays about East Indian life and culture.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Washington Post, July 8, 1991, Steve Coll, "Indian Author Can't Shake Caste Consciousness," p. B1.
Gujarat World,http://www.gujaratworld.com/ (February 27, 2002), Nishant Shah, review of The Inscrutable Americans.
Hindustan Times,http://www.hindustantimes.com/ (May 5, 2001), Meenakshi Kumar, "Writers Blocked."
India Star,http://www.indiastar.com/ (February 27, 2002), Robbie Clipper Sethi, review of The Inscrutable Americans.
Monthly Aspectarian,http://www.lightworks.com/MonthlyAspectarian/ (September, 1997), June Rouse, review of The Inscrutable Americans.
Penguin Books India,http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/ (May 6, 2002).
Stephanian,http://www.stephanian.com/ (May 6, 2002), Anurag Mathur, "Leg Spinners."*