The pioneering post: Scent of a Story recounts life and times of late journalist, SN Ghosh
“Chronicling events from India’s tumultuous past — both during the Colonial era and in the early years of the country as an independent nation and thereafter — through the eyes of his journalist father, SN Ghosh, is Shankar Ghosh’s part-memoir part-biography, Scent of a Story: A Newspaperman’s Journey.
“I always felt that the story was too good to die with me,” says Ghosh, adding that amongst noted editors such as Frank Moraes, Pothan Joseph, Durga Das, Chalapati Rau, DR Mankekar and Ian Stephens among others, his father’s time as a journalist was one when “newspaper editors cast very long shadows.”
SN Ghosh’s career spanned some of the most profound events in modern history, as he was the longest-serving and first Indian editor of the country’s second-oldest English newspaper, The Pioneer. Excerpts from the interview:
Down memory lane
Choosing not to go with a third person narrative, Ghosh took on the voice of his father in the novel in order to make the storytelling feel more natural and less laboured. Apart from oral narratives of personal experiences, Ghosh also drew on his father’s travel features and other pieces of writings. “Recollecting the bare bones of these stories was not so difficult, but fleshing them out took a bit of doing,” Ghosh says when talking about the process of taking up these anecdotes that he had heard in his childhood from his father and grandmother and the research involved in making them sound authentic.
The book manages to intersperse important incidents in SN Ghosh’s life with an account traversing crucial years in India’s political and social history. “Scent of a Story is different from other biographies since it is about a person I knew intimately for more than half a century but perhaps that was the challenge too,” the Delhi-based author shares.
Ghosh looked to authors such as Rudyard Kipling and Desmond Young while writing the novel and counts amongst his favourite biographies books such as, The Story of San Michelle by Axel Munthe, James Watson’s The Double Helix and Roots by Alex Haley. Ask him if he is interested in experimenting with any other genres for his future writing projects and he shares that he is currently “researching on lesser known adventurers in history” for a novel which would “largely be fiction.”
HarperCollins India, `399.