Ved Mehta: An Indian born author who made it big in New York

He is a story in himself and his legacy will live forever

Born in 1934 into a Hindu family in Lahore before partition, celebrated New York writer Ved Mehta was unique in his own terms, both for his writing style and for who he was. The author of 27 books, including the autobiographical series Continents of Exile, a MacArthur Prize fellow and member of the British Royal Society of Literature, Mehta also wrote for The New Yorker from 1961-1994.

What made the admired writer unique was how he didn’t let his disability come in his way of passion. Born as a healthy child but a couple of months short of his fourth birthday, he lost his sight as the result of an attack of cerebrospinal meningitis. After much struggle by his father to provide him with normal education like other children, it brought him to the Arkansas School for the Blind. At the age of 15, he flew alone to the States and was finally on the road to formal education.

From there on, he earned a B.A. from Pomona College, in California, a B.A. from Balliol College, Oxford, and an M.A. from Harvard. Mehta became an American citizen in 1975.

Journey into writing
While still a student, Mehta started as a staff writer for The New Yorker and at the age of 23, published his first book, an autobiography. As he has spoken on his website that the autobiography was written out of a feeling that he could partly alleviate a life of deprivation by writing about it.

His first book, an autobiography called Face to Face published in 1957 narrated his early life in the context of Indian politics, history, and Anglo-Indian relations. And it ends around the time Mehta got through Pomona College. His other autobiography, titled Continents of Exile, was published in 12 installments between 1972 and 2004. Its first volume, Daddyji published in 1972 is part autobiography and part biography of Mehta’s father.

His first novel Delinquent Chacha was published in 1966 and was serialized in The New Yorker. In his more than 24 books that he wrote, several dealt with the subject of blindness. He also wrote hundreds of articles and short stories, for British, Indian, and American publications.

His other books are titled, Walking the Indian Streets, Fly and the Fly-Bottle: Eencounters with British Intellectuals, The New Theologian, Portrait of India, John Is Easy to Please: Encounters with the Written and the Spoken Word, Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles, The New India, A Family Affair: India under Three Prime Ministers, A Ved Mehta Reader: The Craft of the Essay and All for Love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button