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Books can be the lever to prise open the world with - or the icebreaker for those sometimes difficult conversations. It is paradoxical that children's literature is so overlooked given the crucial role it can play in shaping the world we want to live in. I believe we need a movement to give kids lit the place it deserves Nayanika Mahtani


Nayanika spent her childhood following her parents across many incredible parts of India, with the longest stop being in Kolkata.


Though she harboured dreams of becoming a stage actor, she followed the proverbial left side of her brain to do an MBA at IIM Bangalore and became an investment banker. A decade later, she followed her heart to live in Africa. Since then, she’s been following the right side of her brain and is now an author and screenwriter. She lives in London with her husband, two daughters, dog, hamster and two goldfish named Sushi and Fishfinger – who spend their days following each other. Mostly. 


Nayanika has been invited as a speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 in Jaipur and in London, to the Mountain Echoes Lit Fest in Bhutan and Neev Lit Fest in Bangalore in 2018 and to the Bookaroo and Peek A Book Lit Fests in Delhi and Mumbai in 2019. She has conducted workshops at the Southbank Centre & the British Library in London, at schools in India, Bhutan, London and Dubai – and pretty much anywhere that she can find young people who might lend her an ear. 



Nayanika's debut novel, Ambushed, is an adventure set in tiger territory in the Himalayan foothills. All royalties from Ambushed go towards a school for the children of former poachers, to give them a window to alternate livelihoods. 


Her next book is The Gory Story of Genghis Khan a.k.a. Don't Mess with the Mongols. It is not a sequel to Ambushed because Genghis Khan wanted a book all to himself. And Nayanika has learnt not to mess with him.


Another of Nayanika’s stories featured in an anthology: The Puffin Book of Holiday Stories - a collection of short stories by Indian authors including Ruskin Bond, Rabindranath Tagore and Sudha Murty.  


Nayanika has also co-written a film script based on the extraordinary true story of the 'Human Computer', Shakuntala Devi, whose role will be essayed by the very talented Vidya Balan. The film is set for a May 2020 release.


Nayanika’s latest book, Across the Line, rooted in the Partition of the subcontinent - is a tale of borders and beliefs, shaped by the games people play.


Nayanika is now working on her next book as well as on a couple of scripts. (When she takes a break from procrastinating, that is.)





Awards and Honours:

Across the Line won the Peek A Book Children's Choice Award, 2019 (Age 13+)

Across the Line has also been nominated for the South Asia Book Prize, 2020