Ken’s love of India began when he spent a college year in Varanasi. After earning his Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard, he spent two years in Pune, India translating Sanskrit love poetry, and another two years in New Delhi as a consultant to high-tech and renewable energy companies. In his next reincarnation, Ken served as Special Assistant to the Dean of Harvard, Vice President of Brandeis and consultant to the US Department of Energy. In 2000, he founded EMSI, an international green building consulting company, which pioneered the green building industry in China. His writing has appeared in the Harvard Review, The Satirist, The Woven Tale, the Vineyard Gazette, Taj Mahal Review and the Journal of the American Oriental Society.
For Ken’s blogs and more, visit his website.
A Nest for Lalita (2020) | Preorder: AZN – B&N – SPD
Your biggest literary influences:
Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Cervantes, Voltaire, John Le Carré
Last book read:
Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte
The book that changed your life:
Candide — Voltaire’s Candide is about how we deal with a broken world. Throughout the book, the hero goes through the most horrendous experiences, all the time keeping his hopes up that he will find his long-lost beloved Cunégonde. His mission is successful, but spirits are weighed down by the unspeakable tragedy and pain he witnesses throughout the world. In the end, he rejects the academic philosophizing of his mentor, Dr. Pangloss, and realizes that the only way to find peace of mind is shut himself off from the world and cultivate his garden, i.e., take care of himself.
Your favorite literary character:
Don Quixote. Cervantes’ tragic hero needs to create a world of phantasy to survive. This unreal world is surreal and even comic; and yet, we admire Don Quixote’s will to live, his burning desire to punish the wicked and help the righteous, and, most of all, his unflappable zest for life.
Currently working on:
A third person memoir that takes as many poetic licenses as I have parking tickets.
Words to live by:
Breathe and take the path not traveled on.
Advice for aspiring authors:
Plaster your rejection letters on the walls of your room and consider them badges of courage. After all, you’re in good company, since many a great writer had to self-publish after being rejected, including J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, Agatha Christie, John Le Carré and Mark Twain.
Reviews and Articles:
“Langer’s prose is lucid and wonderfully detailed … [he] is extremely successful at bringing the time and place to vivid life.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Thrilling to read, A Nest for Lalita puts the reader into the sights, sounds and smells of India as religious fundamentalism, Hindu nationalism and domestic violence play out in an irresistible love story.”
— Josh Sapan, President & CEO, AMC Networks
“This novel is a storm of Eastern wisdom, as well as the calm of poetry.”
— Martin Walser, author of bestselling Runaway Horse (Ein Fliehendes Pferd), winner of the international Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
“Having explored India myself, I’m impressed with Ken’s knowledge of Indian society. It’s evident that he spent quite a bit of time navigating what is a complex and nuanced culture.”
— John Shors, bestselling author of Beneath a Marble Sky
“Ken Langer skilfully brings to his novel a storehouse of academic and worldly experience of India.”
— Saumya Balsari, author of The Cambridge Curry Club and winner of the Cambridgeshire Book of the Decade