Karan Madhok’s novel A Beautiful Decay contrives a response to the rise of a select few people to power, and the everyday quality of bigotry privileged people have come to accept and even celebrate casually for momentary gain. Besides being a commentary on privilege and power, it also deftly lays bare the mechanics of caste-hetero-patriarchy. Told through the perspective of 21-year-old Vishnu Agarwal, who is killed in the US in an act of hate crime by a recently laid-off white man, it is a story that’s becoming commonplace.
In the novel, Vishnu says that his death has given him a chance to “binge-watch” his life. However, the context in which this story gets told, and the many worldviews it wrestles with, underlines the business of what makes nation-states great. Or the conditions that help enable and accelerate this process to make them so begs us this question: Who bears the cost of?
It is a treat to read a new voice in fiction writing. In an interview with Scroll, Madhok talked about what went into writing A Beautiful Decay, writerly anxieties in the age of ChatGPT, and his next book. Excerpts from the conversation:
Were you particularly inspired by any of the afterlife narratives you must have read before…