‘Ania had set aside most of the morning for some work on her novel. Her main character was a less beautiful and more philosophical version of herself. She nursed a dark secret as did most of the other characters. These were all to be eventually revealed in the book-lined office of a psychiatrist, the novel’s narrator. Before long Ania was deep in contemplation, weighing up the benefits of different venues for her book launch.’

I am delighted to be sharing Mahesh Rao’s novel POLITE SOCIETY. Ania is the beautiful, clever and very slightly bored daughter of a rich Indian family. When she’s not interviewing celebrities or working on her novel, Ania uses her glittering social life to create romantic opportunities for her peers– first for her aunt (‘There was one in most of the grand houses in Delhi, usually beached somewhere on the upper floors.’) and then for her friend Dimple. Ania is too busy managing others’ love lives to give too much thought to her own, but she can’t help noticing her very good friend Dev is spending an awful lot of time with Kamya, an irritatingly beautiful novelist…

With stiletto-sharp observation and social comedy, Mahesh Rao has used Jane Austen’s Emma as a springboard to take us into the lives of a group of characters we never want to part with. His ability to combine a heavy dose of irony with the lightest of touches makes this novel a poignant, funny and hugely enjoyable read.

Mahesh is the author of a novel THE SMOKE IS RISING and a book of short stories ONE POINT TWO BILLION published in the UK by Daunt to wonderful reviews, and in France by Editions Zoe. THE SMOKE IS RISING won the Tata First Book Award for Fiction and his short fiction has been short-listed for the Bridport Prize, the Commonwealth short story prize and the Zoetrope: All-story short fiction contest.  He was born and brought up in Nairobi, has worked in the UK as a lawyer, researcher and bookseller and currently lives most of the year in India.

‘Fish got a ticket, has he?’ asked the stationmaster.   Emma Macdonald