Chetan Bhagat at SIBF 2021: Writing a book is like preparing a six-course meal

Bestselling novelist leads the global launch of his latest work, 400 Days,
at 40th Sharjah International Book Fair 

For immediate release
Sharjah, November 7, 2021

Overnight success is nothing but 20 years of hard work, underlined Chetan Bhagat, bestselling author of
2 States and Five Point Someone in a freewheeling conversation with journalist, Nasreen Abdulla, at the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2021), which runs its course at Expo Centre Sharjah until November 13.

The Indian author, who was at SIBF 2021 for the global launch of his new book, 400 Days, was all praise for the fair, calling it “a five-star event which is free and open to all.” Holding a fully physical event of this stature as the world emerges out of the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, showed that “the human spirit will evolve. That is what books and writers are about,” said Bhagat, a columnist, screenplay writer, motivational speaker and of late, a stand-up comedian, who has been seen on the SIBF platform frequently over the past few years.

Penned during the lockdown in India, 400 Days is inspired by the real-life story of a mother’s search for her missing 12-year-old daughter, and how, with the help of a young neighbour, she continues her search long after the police have given up.

Discussing the book, the author warned parents about the danger of letting children talk to strangers on social media, advising them to remain emotionally connected with their children. “If a child is talking to a stranger more than you, that’s a sign that trouble is brewing,” said the prolific writer who admitted that 400 Days was his most challenging work as he had to strike a balance between humour and emotions and immerse himself into the mental state of the mother of a missing child.

“Being at the right place at the right time” and releasing his first novel before the age of smartphones are what helped his books become bestsellers, said Bhagat. He added: “Reading a book changes your personality; it builds your imagination, and the content stays in your memory. Memes and social media posts rarely touch you the way a book can.” 

“It is not that simple to be simple,” quipped the writer who is often criticised for his use of easy-to-read vocabulary. “Like the crazy number of spices that go into Indian cooking, my books have a mix of everything from mystery to romance. I make the Indian buffet.”

Bhagat, whose four novels have been adapted for the screen, said: “Writing a book is like preparing a six-course meal while writing a screenplay is more like preparing chaat (an easy to prepare Indian fast food that blends numerous spices). Writing a book is also quite a lonely experience.”


 – Images during the session