It’s day three of the Bombay Litfest and I am there to meet super agent David Godwin. I am excited. David Godwin is God for all aspiring writers (pun intended). After all, the man who discovered Arundhati Roy must be no ornery chap. I notice him almost immediately. He is tall, has a ruddy complexion, has a head full of blonde hair, and something very youthful in him though he claims to be sixty. He is here to launch his book Breaking 80 which according to him is his first and only book and is mostly about golf. I don’t golf, no, I don’t know a put from a caddy. I would think a caddy is something you put in those small holes on the patch of grass called greens. As for handicaps, I don’t have any except a bulging beer belly, a reminder of the beery days of yore.
So what do I talk to him about, I wonder, as I inch towards the God animatedly talking to his circle of female admirers. How do I tear him away? I guess, seeing me waiting to talk to him, he does the tearing away himself (no wonder, having handled umpteen such circumstances), turning away from all the “shawashwashaw” of the feigned upper class lisp of the “growing-old-baby-log” to face me. I introduce myself as a writer and his Facebook friend. I ask him about Bombay and how he likes it. “Well, it’s a fascinating city.” I say I am working on a novel and he says, “You mean you have submitted a novel to me?” I say, no, I am editing my novel. “Then send it to me, also mention that you met me here.” It’s too brief. But I have connected with God. Then the army of female admirers takes over and I make a dignified retreat and, now, I can go home content.
Inside, Anil Dharkar does the book launch. David in his preamble before he reads from his book says that he finds his job interesting, “You get the privilege of seeing the book in its purest form.” The man likes what he is doing. Why don’t I also say I love writing a novel and finish the editing soon, eh?
He also say, “I like helping writers on the journey to get their book to the audience.” Which is what he did to Arundhati Roy’s book. “I had heard of her and she sent me the novel in a neat package. I read it and I was fascinated.” The man has described his entire work in so few words. He takes a manuscript to the ultimate consumer, the audience. And here I am stuck with merely not being able to get my manuscript in shape, leave along taking it to the audience. Bah!
And what does he look for in the writing? “I look for the tone, the voice of the writer. Then something clicks.”
And to sum up, “It’s an immensely rewarding experience, discovering new people, voices, cultures, which is what all literature is about.”
During question hour a gentleman sitting beside me asks him what sort of haggling he does for advances to his authors. “I haggle. Yes, I haggle for around three-and-half million.”
Another gentleman mentions that he has been rejected by God himself. The God just smiles to this. Guess, to be rejected is also a privilege as far as God is concerned. For hadn’t God rejected the Israelis many times in the Negev desert?