Mahesh Rao’s debut novel, The Smoke is Rising, won the Tata First Book Award and was shortlisted for several others, including the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and the Crossword Prize. His second book, One Point Two Billion, is an ambitious collection of short stories, set in various locations across India, and has been greeted with rave reviews. In this interview, the author chats about the other Naipaul, books that need to be carried on wheelbarrows, and what he has in common with B