New Delhi, April 2023: Penguin Random House India proudly announces the publication of former editor of The Hindu, Mukund Padmanabhan’s debut book, titled The Great Flap, a narrative history on an important but scarcely known series of events. The book, which will tentatively be published towards the end of the year under the Vintage imprint of Penguin, was acquired at a pre-empt from Jayapriya Vasudevan of Jacaranda Literary Agency.
The Great Flap tells the story of a period between December 1941 and mid-1942 when India was in a frightful panic, believing that Japan would launch a full-scale invasion. It led to a huge and largely unmapped exodus (of both Indians and Europeans) from both sides of the coastline to ‘safer’ inland regions. The book situates the Japanese threat in a larger political context, discussing how it changed the face of both nationalist politics and British attitudes towards India.
Padmanabhan’s book covers the attack on Malaya, the conquest of Singapore, the bombing and eventual occupation of Burma, and Japan’s entry into the Indian Ocean, all of which are narrated in a manner to reveal the impact they ultimately had on India.
Heavily researched and deeply insightful, this book offers a neglected story and is a reminder that history is made in the most unexpected places. The book promises to provide readers with a fascinating glimpse into India’s past and its journey towards Independence.
Author, Mukund Padmanabhan, says, ‘The initial spark for this book was lit by the stories I heard from my mother. She and her family fled Madras in early 1942 when the city was terrified about an impending Japanese invasion. Researching the period led me to a story with a larger narrative arc – one that moves from Malaya, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia to India. I am delighted that Penguin Random House will be publishing the book and equally pleased to be represented by Jacaranda Literary Agency.’
Milee Ashwarya, Publisher, Penguin Random House India, says, ‘The Great Flap by Mukund Padmanabhan fills a gap in India’s history and shares the story of an important event that had far-reaching consequences. Well researched and engagingly told, I recommend it to all readers of nonfiction.’
About the author
Mukund Padmanabhan is the former editor of The Hindu, one of India’s largest and most-respected newspapers. He was appointed to the post in 2016 after having been Editor of the business daily, The Hindu BusinessLine, a sister publication from the same group. As a journalist, he has reported widely from several countries, writing on legal and political affairs as well as literature and the arts.
He is currently a Visiting Professor of Practice at the newly-established Krea University, where he teaches philosophy and related disciplines. Mukund is an M-Phil in Philosophy and started his career as a Lecturer in a college at Delhi University, before switching to journalism. Between 2007 and 2013, he was an adjunct faculty in the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, where he taught law and advanced writing to post-graduate students.
He is the Chairman of the World Editors Forum (South Asia chapter) of the World Association of Newspapers. And he is on the Board of Trustees of organisations, including the CPB Foundation (which runs the international photo biennale in the city), the Alliance Francaise Trust (Madras) and his old school (the Blue Mountain School, Ooty).