The Brown Sahebs tells the story of India as it put on the clothes of a democracy while its body and soul remained a colony’s. It tells the story of power changing hands from the white sahebs to the brown sahebs who kept the inequality between the rulers and the ruled intact. The novel depicts the final phase of India’s freedom struggle, the opulent but troubled lives of rulers, the emergence of Oxford and Cambridge-educated leaders who were friends with the British, the new capital of India which came to be known as Lutyens’ Delhi and life in India in that slow-paced time. It also brings to life the influence India’s leaders had over the uneducated and impoverished masses who created a groundswell of popular resistance against British rule. Among these great men was Gandhi who finds a special place in the novel but was consigned to be a portrait on the walls of free India.
Anupam Srivastava was born in Lucknow, India, where his novel, The Brown Saheb’s first part is set. However, he never lived there as his father and mother, Ashok and Veena Srivastava, lived in different parts of India. However, Anupam spent some of his childhood and most of his vacations in Lucknow where he flew kites and learnt about the craft of pigeon-flying. He went to a boarding school near Delhi, the Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai, where he played cricket but earned his college colours at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, in cross-country running. He studied English literature (BA Hons and MA), won the college annual poetry prize while pursuing his MA, and being sure his vocation was writing and journalism, became a journalist with The Times of India in 1993. In 1999, he was awarded the British Chevening scholarship by the British government.