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Draftfcb+Ulka’s Anees Salim wins The Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2013

The award is for his second novel, ‘Vanity Bagh’. He is the creative head of the agency’s Kochi office

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | January 20, 2014

VB-FINAL

Anees Salim is a senior advertising professional, and has published four novels in quick succession. He currently heads the creative department of Draftfcb+Ulka, Kochi, where he started his career as a trainee copywriter.

Anees Salim Anees Salim

The book depicts how inside every big Indian city, there is a tiny Pakistan. Touched with a wistful small-town feeling in the midst of a teeming city, Vanity Bagh is a darkly comic tale, of how Imran Jabbari, inspired by the legend of Abu Hathim, aging don of Vanity Bagh, forms a gang with his friends called ‘Five and a half Men’ in their ‘mohalla’ (neighborhood)  of Vanity Bagh, and how they dispense a batch of stolen scooters to different parts of the city and become prime terror suspects after the scooter bombs explode.

The gang members are hired to dispense a batch of stolen scooters to different corners of the city and not until the city rocks with scooter bombs does Imran realise that they have been involved in a terrorist act.

The solitude and reflection that characterise Imran’s narrative is undercut by communal tension and a simmering violence. Touched with a wistful small-town feeling in the midst of a teeming city, Vanity Bagh is a darkly comic tale.

Having spent most of his growing up days in a home library, Anees Salim calls himself an autodidact. He spent his adolescent days travelling across India, seeing places and meeting people. In 1995, he joined Ulka as a trainee copywriter and, except for a short sabbatical, has been working in the same office.

Salim made his literary debut last October with The Vicks Mango Tree (HarperCollins), which tells the story of a journalist who disappears during the Emergency. He has two more books in the pipeline: ‘The Blind Lady’s Descendants’ (Tranquebar) is written as a suicide note of a young Muslim from a little known Indian town. ‘Tales from a Vending Machine’ (HarperCollins) is the hilarious story of a young girl employed at an airport coffee shop. While Vanity Bagh is already in stores across the country, the others will follow in quick succession.

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