The Untitled (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, 2016) is a historical novel set against the last battle between Tipu Sultan and the East Indian Company.
It is 1798 and Richard Dawson, an English painter, has arrived on the southern coast of India, looking for employment. Finding his fellow countrymen unhelpful, he boldly decides to travel to the kingdom of Tipu Sultan to catch history in the making. Though reputedly cruel to the British, Tipu allows Richard to stay at his fort in Srirangapatna, much to the resentment of his courtiers. As Richard and his apprentice, a runaway Brahmin boy called Mukunda, experiment with Indian and Western styles of painting, they find themselves drawn into a high-stake political intrigue. Devised by the women of the former royal family of Mysore, the Wodeyars, and catalyzed by the striking Suhasini, this plan to oust Tipu must involve active support from Richard and Mukunda. Both painters fall under the allure of Suhasini, even as their paintings become the unexpected crux of the last Anglo-Mysore War.
The Wire described The Untitled as an imaginative break from the themes that have animated historical fiction in India for over a century now, namely “the temptation to be intimate with the monumental.” Read more.
The Huffington Post review called the prose “supple and sublime” and termed the novel as “an allegory of how art and politics cannot remain insulated from one another.” Read more.
The Hindu’s Literary Review profiled the novel and praised the historical research as the real hero of the book, allowing the author “to effectively harness the inherent drama and romance surrounding the end of an empire.” Read more.
Simplicity reviewed the novel as “unputdownable” and “an entirely new approach to the [Tipu Sultan] story and it shows the mutifacted Tipu at close quarters. Read more.
The Times of India featured Gayathri in their Shelf Esteem column. Read more.
The Untitled has also been featured in the Times Lit Fest 2016, The Tribune, Sakal Times, and the Deccan Herald.