I. Allan Sealy
Irwin Allan Sealy (b. 1951) was born in Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) and did his schooling and graduation in Lucknow and Delhi. He has worked and taught in universities in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
One of the most underrated writers in India, Allan Sealy’s creativity and eye for detail show up right from his first novel The Trotter-Nama, a magical account of seven generations of a dynasty. The Everest Hotel on the other hand, is in a totally different lush descriptive style, as though it were the work of another writer altogether.
Allan Sealy’s first two novels won him the Commonwealth Best Book Award in 1989, the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991, and the Crossword Book Award (India’s first commerically sponsored prize for novels) in 1998. Like fellow writer Ruskin Bond, he prefers to live away from the glare of publicity in the Himalayan foothills of Dehradun.
- From Yukon to Yukatan: A Travelogue
- The Trotter-Nama: A Chronicle
- The Everest Hotel: A Calendar
- The Brainfever Bird
The Trotter-Nama is a literary extravaganza, a huge, funny, constantly surprising fictional family chronicle that spans 200 years, seven generations, and at least two cultures in telling the extraordinary story of an Anglo-Indian clan from its glorious founding in the eighteenth century by a French mercenary officer through its grand vicissitudes in the nineteenth century to its sadly shrunken present.
By turns satirical, poignant, and magical—the central narrative dazzlingly embellished by everything from advertisements and recipes to couplets, table-talk, elegies, and learned digressions—it is a triumph of imaginative energy, and delicious to read.
The uninhibited chronicler is Eugene, Seventh Trotter, a plump painter, a forger of miniatures, who is not averse to rearranging history to suit himself. Yet not even his vanity can diminish the wondrousness of the tale he has to tell—from the Great Trotter (born Trottoire), with his wives and concubines, his limitless fortune based on gunpowder, indigo, and ice, his châtteau, his curious inventions, his bizarre death by balloon…to his soldier son Mik, known for his exploits on the Afghan frontier and elsewhere…to a real painter…to a clerk caught up in the Great Indian Mutiny…to a pacifist historian-turned-rain guage-salesman…a drunken piano-tuner and a soft-spoken politician…not to forget the Victorian Philippa, who once managed to become pregnant, all by herself, simply by thinking of England.
But history is changing India, and the Trotters with it. By the end their grandeur is fled, their properties flooded, their châtteau turned into a hotel, the aunts and cousins and uncles scattered and clinging, but barely, to their Anglo-Indian identity. Only the dubious Eugene remains, still unreliable, still catty, still talking and still—despite everything—so alive, so articulate, so entertaining that, thanks to him, the glory that was a Trotter will be safe forever in his gorgeously embroidered family history, presented as The Trotter-Nama.