From Curry To Carousel

Birmingham restaurateur publishes daring debut novel

Posted: 19.07.13
 From Curry To Carousel

Rajeev Rana isn’t your typical entrepreneur. He has an impressive portfolio of businesses under his belt, a posh car and a beautiful wife but his desires don’t just revolve around having the good life. He’s also a creative, a visionary and a storyteller; three traits he’s brought together in his new novel, released on Monday.

Carousel is a gripping tale about a privileged Indian boy who gets seduced by the underworld. And Raj, owner of one of Birmingham’s best known Indian restaurants Itihaas is not afraid to admit that the story is loosely autobiographical, based on characters he’s encountered over the last few years both in business and his personal life.

In an exclusive interview with Asiana.TV, Raj revealed: ‘I’d say 30% of the main character Raj (who yes has the same name), is me, but the rest of him is inspired by three or four other people I know. In fact all the characters are combinations of personalities and characteristics I’ve come across.’

But how does a restaurant owner go from being a businessman to becoming an author? Raj explains: ‘I had no previous experience of writing. I left school at 15 and set up a property business – but there has always been this niggling feeling that this was something I could do. They say everyone has a book in them and I decided to explore mine, as a form of escapism.’

It’s certainly a book filled with fantasy and not of the fairytale kind – we’re talking the Asian answer to 50 Shades. Raj reveals: ‘There are graphic sex scenes in the book and a very juicy love triangle.’

He goes on to explain: ‘Men love sex. I see it every day when I observe my peers. Everything a man does is to impress a girl, he’ll even start buying champagne if he sees an attractive woman at the bar just to get her attention. But what I’ve learnt is that women are the same. So although what I’m writing about may shock people, in actual fact these are every day occurrences.’

The main plot of the book focuses on the underworld crime of Carousel, a form of tax fraud that was rife between 2001-2007. In particular it lured in many Asians and during that time there were some high profile cases with staggering figures in the 100s of millions of pounds being laundered. As a spoilt rich kid the protagonist Raj gets drawn into this dark side, he explores himself, his sexuality and the relationship with his family.

That’s where the Desi side kicks in. Raj explains: ‘You could say the book is quite filmi – family is a big part of the story, like how we see Raj try to step away from the shadow of his father and the impact his actions have on his wife and family.’ He goes on: ‘The underworld of fraud and gangsters is taboo within Indian culture, with any untold secrets swept under the carpet to maintain that family’s reputation. My novel is an attempt to tell a story that has affected thousands of Indian families but is rarely, if ever, told.’

So far Raj has kept his writing hobby a secret from his friends and fellow restaurateurs…is he nervous about them finding out about his alter ego as an author?
Raj says: ‘No! This is a story that has universal appeal. I’ve tried to write something easy to read that’s engaging and gives a new perspective on Asians living in the UK. Today’s young people are third or fourth generation, they have money and power, drive Porches, own £2million houses…it’s no longer a fantasy.’ 

Carousel by Raj Rana is released on Monday 21st July 2013 and is currently available to pre-order on Amazon.

The first chapter of Raj’s daring, explicit and shocking novel will be available to read exclusively to Asiana readers next week.  

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