This morning (March3) Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ancient Sanskrit text the Arthashastra-one of the major works of Indian literature. According to legend, it was written by Chanakya, a political advisor to the ruler Chandragupta Maurya (reigned 321 – 297 BC) who founded the Mauryan Empire, the first great Empire in the Indian subcontinent. It is not a moral treatise but it is refined analysis of the nature, dynamics and challenges of rulership, and scholars value it partly because it undermines colonial stereotypes of what early South Asian society was like.

Chanakaya predated Asoka. One of my motives for writing Sculpting the Elephant was to draw attention to the Mauryan emperor – Asoka. My novel is an enjoyable and accessible read but I aimed to garner the interest of readers in Asoka who was responsible for the religion we know as Buddhism but was forgotten for over a thousand years. Sculpting the Elephant is not academic but the historical background is reliable. It has been endorsed by Professor Simon Altman (Oxford) and some South Asian academics.

 Simon Altmann (Emeritus Professor @ Brasenose College Oxford h=is one of the academics who has endorsed it. Since his retirement he has published and lectured on poetry, the philosophy of science and art and art theory.

‘This is an impressive book with excellent characters and an engaging story.  In this well researched novel I especially like the warm picture of Asoka, one of my heroes. Very necessary since his is a shining example of governance. Most importantly sculpting the Elephant is a good read.  I spent two lovely days with it.’

Here are my  book recommendations on

This interesting free book search engine is only 10 months old but is growing fast and is beautifully presented.

I also wrote this feature for the Madras Courier  but didn’t choose the title.

At this time the world badly needs examples of good governance . I invite you to read Sculpting the Elephant as a way of wetting your appetite to learn more about Asoka.  If you live in the UK, I am happy to post a not- for- profit copy for £5  P&P