New Delhi, 5 August 2019; Penguin Random House India announces the acquisition of award-winning and bestselling author Manu S. Pillai’s new untitled book on a forgotten slice of colonial history from David Godwin at David Godwin Associates Ltd, London. To be published in 2021 under the Allen Lane imprint, it will be released simultaneously by Penguin Random House UK. PRH’s non-fiction imprint, Allen Lane, is renowned for quality and originality of thought across subjects including history, science, politics, economics, philosophy, psychology, language and current affairs.

Acclaimed for his ability to capture unique perspectives of Indian history, in his immensely readable and engaging new work Manu S. Pillai writes about India’s extraordinary past and the startling colonial connections that have shaped independent India’s narrative. The book will examine the influence of the West on Indian beliefs and culture and how its present self-image was conceived.

Commenting on the publication of the upcoming book, Manu S. Pillai says, ‘I am thrilled to join the Penguin Random House India family, and expect this to be a long, fruitful relationship. After all, some of the greatest titles on Indian history – including many books, which energized my own interest in the subject years ago – were published by PRH, which makes this both a privilege as well as a moment of excitement. While my own efforts to pursue the highest standards in my writing will continue, they will, no doubt, benefit greatly from the editorial expertise at PRH, and together we will hopefully present books that not only make us proud, but also do justice to the fascinating world of Indian history.’

Using a diverse range of sources – from the latest secondary work to original archival material – the author will chronicle the lives of remarkable men and women who were instrumental in shaping what is today India’s self-image and distinct modernity. The book will travel through eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Indian history, exploring everything from caste, religion and people from diverse backgrounds. Through these tales of figures and of the times in which they lived, Manu extrapolates the manner in which the dynamics of the colonial age continue to affect India even today.

Manasi Subramaniam, senior commissioning editor and head of literary rights at Penguin Random House India, says, ‘Manu S. Pillai is one of our most brilliant young historians, and we are delighted he will join us on the prestigious Allen Lane list. He has an extraordinary knack for uncovering stories in places that others might not even think to look, and he brings a novelist’s eye to his academic rigour. He is, in every way, that rare historian with the gift of the imagination – a gift that both adorns and informs his breadth of knowledge, meticulous research, and spirit of curiosity and engagement.’

Manu S. Pillai is the author of the critically acclaimed The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore (2015) and Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji (2018). Formerly chief to staff to the chairman of the external affairs committee in the Indian parliament, he has in the past worked at the House of Lords, and with the BBC on their Incarnations Indian history series. He has, since 2016, written a weekly column on history in Mint Lounge, and his other writings have appeared in The Hindu, the Times of India, Hindustan Times, the New Statesman, Open magazine and other publications. Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar, awarded by India’s national academy of letters to writers under forty, he is also studying for a PhD at the India Institute at King’s College London. His third book, a collection of essays on Indian history, titled The Courtesan, the Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin, was published in June 2019.

Ranjana Sengupta, deputy publisher, Penguin Random House India says, ‘Manu S. Pillai brings enormous talent, curiosity and energy into the field of history writing in India today. In his new book, he will explore the grand questions about Indian identities: What makes one Indian? What are the factors shaping India’s distinct modernity? What are the enduring consequences of India’s relationship with British colonialism? This will be an original, wide-ranging and deeply researched insight into the impact of India’s encounter with the West. Penguin Random House India are absolutely delighted to be the publishers of this extraordinary book.’


About Penguin Random House India

Penguin Random House India is the largest English language trade publisher in the subcontinent, publishing over 250 new titles every year and with an active backlist of over 3000 titles. With a strong fiction and non-fiction list, it publishes across every segment including biography, travel, business, politics, history, religion and philosophy, lifestyle, cookery, health and fitness, sports and leisure, visual books and children’s books. The children’s titles are published under the Puffin imprint.

Penguin Random House India’s illustrious list includes Booker Prize-winning novels and winners of virtually every major literary prize, including the Nobel Prize, the Magsaysay Award, the Jnanpith Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Several of PRHI’s authors are also recipients of the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan, India’s highest civilian honors.

Penguin Random House India is also the exclusive distribution partner for several leading local and international publishing houses in India and the sub-continent.

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Pallavi Narayan
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