Manu S Pillai is the author of the award-winning The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore (HarperCollins India, 2015), Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji (Juggernaut, 2018), and most recently The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin: Tales from Indian History (Context, 2019).
Formerly Chief of Staff to Dr. Shashi Tharoor MP, he has in the past worked at the House of Lords in Britain, with Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL, and with the BBC on their Incarnations history series, assisting Dr. Sunil Khilnani. Written over six years and researched in three continents, Manu’s first book, The Ivory Throne won the 2016 Tata Prize for best first work of non-fiction and the 2017 Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar. For three years, Manu also wrote a weekly column for Mint Lounge. His other writings have appeared in The Hindu, Open Magazine, the Times of India, Hindustan Times, The New Statesman, and other publications.
Reviews: The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin
“This book is that old clichéd thing: a must-read…”- The Deccan Herald
“To sum up in a sentence, The Courtesan, the Mahatma, and the Italian Brahmin is a rich store of historical anecdotes strung together to make for an absorbing read.”- Financial Express
“…a beacon of hope…(the book) has both gems and pebbles–fortunately more gems than pebbles.”- Outlook
“…this book should be made mandatory reading: Pillai wears his learning lightly and his prose style is exquisite.”- Deccan Chronicle
“…an eclectic collection of essays on interesting episodes from Indian history…Pillai’s prose is crisp, fluid and makes for an entertaining read…the essays are crafted cleverly and leave the reader with enough questions which hopefully will make him/her pursue further reading..”- The Hindu
“…each essay is a nugget of well-written history, easily absorbable…(with) some extraordinary stories and characters…Mr Pillai’s book–well researched and accessible–does a yeoman’s work in uncovering nuggets of history of which a general reader would have usually been unaware.”- Business Standard
“…Manu Pillai’s book is an important contribution. Wide-ranging and informative…Pillai rescues history from being a compendium of incontrovertible data by allowing us to engage with the strengths and frailties of the humans who lived through it.”- The Tribune
“…a collection of eclectic, wide-ranging essays, bound by this central theme: That India is large, it contains multitudes.”- The Hindu Business Line
“What emerges through the book is a different idea of “greatness”, a persistent, if sometimes weak, uniquely subcontinental strain of liberalism. At a time when the philosophy is often attacked for being western-centric, an accessible but more complicated picture of the past is invaluable.”- India Today
“…an eclectic collection of some astonishing nuggets of Indian history…Pillai writes in impeccable prose…an exhilarating read…(and an) exquisite book!”- The Pioneer
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