A winning grip on romance

A winning grip on romance

Hong Kong plays a starring role in Hold My Hand, the best-selling Indian romance author Durjoy Datta's ninth novel


Durjoy Datta
Durjoy Datta
Deep, an awkward young man, lives in India and buries himself in a world of books. Most of the time he can be seen reading inside libraries. But all this changes when he joins an internship programme and is sent to Hong Kong, where he meets a beautiful girl, Ahana.

The delightful, surprising journey of Deep and Ahana unfolds in Hold My Hand, another romance novel by Indian author Durjoy Datta.

The 26-year-old writer is in the city for the Hong Kong Book Fair, which starts tomorrow and runs until July 23.

Born and raised in Delhi, Datta has degrees in both engineering and business management. He worked in both fields before writing full time.

Although he is still young, he is no stranger to the publishing industry. He wrote most of his nine books during his time at university.

Five books were top national bestsellers. In 2009, he was named Young Achiever by The Times of India. In 2011, with Sachin Garg, he co-founded his own company, Grapevine India Publishers.

His latest book, Hold My Hand, came out only this month. All nine of his books focus on relationships, although they are not limited to romance. "At the end of the day that's what we have, right? ... our relationship with others. It is the strongest, and an inexhaustible, source of happiness," he says.

Hold My Hand is a collaboration project with the Hong Kong Tourism Board promoting the city. He is fascinated each time he visits the city, Datta says. "Hong Kong represents the old world and the new world, which are so entwined that you can hardly tell where one ends and the other starts," he says.

"Nestled between tall buildings [in Sheung Wan], you find the centuries-old Man Mo Temple; and Hollywood Road is littered with artifact shops like little museums."

Hong Kong is the perfect setting for his story, he says.

"Hong Kong is a metaphor for humanity, which we sometimes tend to ignore. The contrasting sense of peace and chaos is what I wanted the characters to go through, since one relies overwhelmingly on sight, the other on sounds and touch."

His character, Ahana, is blind. Datta says: "It's essential for the story to be set in a place that continues to shock and deceive the senses. The two characters needed to be fooled and fascinated at every step of the short journey they took together."

The physical challenges facing Ahana provided a whole new perspective for Deep, and posed an interesting challenge for the writer, too.

"Tackling blindness was the hardest part," Datta says. "I didn't want to be factually wrong or offensive; yet I didn't want her to be morose about her disability."

His efforts paid off because the novel provides a satisfying experience, and offers a positive message. "I've been thinking of this story for a really long time," Datta says. "I wanted to show two people coming together as one by covering up, or complementing one another's flaws. And I finally managed it."

Introducing the book to a new audience in Hong Kong can be nerve racking. "Once I'd written the last sentence, I spent the next few months being a nervous wreck," he says. "I've high expectations for the book and hope my readers like it."

When he meets readers in Hong Kong, Datta says, he hopes they will "shake my hand, pat me on the back, and tell me I'm getting better with my every new novel".

You can meet Durjoy Datta and other writers at the Book Fair.

For details, go to: http://hkbookfair.hktdc.com

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