Photo by José Villarrubia
Manil Suri (born July 1959) is an Indian-American mathematician and writer, most notable for his first novel, The Death of Vishnu, which was long-listed for the 2001 Booker Prize, short-listed for the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize that year. His second novel was The Age of Shiva. His third novel, The City of Devi, was released in early 2013.
Suri was born in Bombay (Mumbai), India, the son of R.L. Suri, a Bollywood music director, and Prem Suri, a schoolteacher. He attended the University of Bombay before moving to the United States, where he attended Carnegie Mellon University. He received a Ph. D. in mathematics in 1983, and became a mathematics professor at UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County). He still continues to hold this job even though he is more notable as a writer, and has risen through the academic ranks of the university. Suri began writing short stories in the 1980s during his spare time, but none were published. In 1995 he began writing The Death of Vishnu, a novel about social and religious tensions in India taking place in an apartment building in contemporary Mumbai. An excerpt "The Seven Circles" appeared in The New Yorker and the novel was published in 2001, becoming an international bestseller. Suri received a six-figure advance as a result of a bidding war between publishing houses, ultimately won by W.W. Norton. In 2002, Suri won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for The Death of Vishnu.
According to an interview on the audio book version of the novel, Suri was planning to write a trilogy of novels with titles featuring the three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The second book in the trilogy, The Age of Shiva, was published in 2008, with The Birth of Brahma slated as the third. This third novel will now be based on Devi (the Mother Goddess) instead, with the title, The City of Devi. His work contains many allusions to Indian cinema and Hindu mythology. A profile of Suri appears in the January/February 2008 issue of Poets and Writers Magazine which expands on his biography and details the process of getting his work published.
In December 2013, Suri won the "Bad Sex in Fiction" prize for comparing sex to a nuclear reaction in the City of Devi.
- The Death of Vishnu: A Novel (W. W. Norton, 2001)
- The Age of Shiva: A Novel (W. W. Norton, 2008)
- The City of Devi: A Novel (W. W. Norton, 2013)
- Sipics, Michele (April 12, 2008). "Second Novel in Print, Mathematician Manil Suri Ponders his Overlapping Careers". SIAM News. SIAM. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
- Dreifus, Claudia (June 17, 2008). "Professor Finds the Art in Both Numbers and Letters". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
- James, Caryn (February 24, 2008). "A Fire in the Heart". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
- Gorra, Michael (January 28, 2001). "The God on the Landing". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
- Brians, Paul (2003). "Manil Suri: The Death of Vishnu (2001)". Modern South Asian literature in English. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-32011-8.
- Sanga, Jaina C. (2003). "Mani Suri (1959 - )". South Asian novelists in English: an A-to-Z guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-31885-9.
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