If memory doesn’t deceive me, I think it was Kushwant Singh who recommended my book to Longfellow Press in Delhi. Someone from there called to say: ‘We want to publish the Crow Eaters, but we need to keep the price very low for it to sell. Please cut about 40 pages.’
Being a rookie writer and not knowing anything about the publishing world, I was so delighted to have found a publisher in India that I diligently set about removing paragraph after paragraph until the manuscript met their specifications. Longfellow commissioned a delightful cartoon for the cover: A fat Parsi lady standing precariously on a bed while the hero — standing behind her, scissors in hand — delicately holds the tip of a ratty plait of hair — its ragged ends tied with a scant little bow. His intent is clear. I wish I could print the cover here; I’m fairly sure I have at least one copy of this book. I wish I had quite a few featuring this unique cover.
Longfellow Press marketed the book for a scant nineteen rupees. Surprisingly the book got a few cheerful reviews, depicting it as ribald and very funny. It sold quite well — ever so often someone in Pakistan or India proudly tells me they have an old copy of The Crow Eaters with this delectable illustration.