Renita D’Silva: Mangalurean fiction novelist ‘thrills’ English readers

January 3, 2024

Among the large number of Indian-origin fiction authors, who have made a big name for themselves in the English literary world, is a talented and award-winning lady with Mangaluru roots Renita D’Silva, who has carved a niche as a novelist and also in the genre of crime thrillers.

A late bloomer as far as getting started as a writer, Renita got per first novel, Monsoon Memories, in June 2013. She has since written, or rather got 10 novels on various social issues, and the novel Number 11, The Spice Maker’s Secret, was released just this month.

Winner of several prestigious awards, her psychological thriller, The Neighbour has won the Joffe Books Prize 2023, the biggest prize for crime fiction in the UK.

Starting as a fiction writer with romantic and social themes with most of the stories being deeply rooted in her native as well as Indian background that should resonate well with readers connected or interested in India, she has branched out to writing crime thrillers and even psychological thrillers and the latest being a historic novel.

Though she has passion for writing since her younger days penning essays and short-stories, her short stories have appeared in The View from Here, Bartleby Snopes, This Zine, Platinum Page, Paragraph Planet, Verve and various anthologies of prize-winning short stories in competitions run by Kingston University, London, in association with the Kingston Readers’ Festival.

Her story on the theme of Journeys was published in a book of winning entries in an international writing competition run by Sampad, an Arts council funded organisation supporting South East Asian Arts in Birmingham. Colour was the Editor’s choice in the Bartleby Snopes half- yearly anthology and was nominated for the Pushcart 2011 prize. Diet was nominated for the 2011 Best of the Net anthology. Problem Child was short-listed for the Love Reading Very Short Story Award 2021. Recipe for Loss was long-listed for the BBC National Short Story Award 2022.

Top in Literary Fiction Charts

Her fiction novels have topped the Literary Fiction charts in the UK, US, Australia and Canada and have been translated into several languages. They have been bestsellers in Norway, Bulgaria and the Netherlands. They are also been audiobook bestsellers.

The debut novel, Monsoon Memories was selected as ‘Notable for potential-Entry that showed a writer’s all-round flair, talent, ideas and feel for storytelling’ in the UK Authors Opening Pages competition 2010, and was nominated for the DSC prize for South Asian Literature in 2014.

Eldest of the three children of Cyril and Hilda D’Silva, Renita was born in Bantwal near the coastal city of Mangaluru, and her family relocated to Kallianpur near Udupi when she was barely three months old.

She had her education in Milagres English Medium School and College and did her B.E. in electronics in the prestigious Karnataka Regional Engineering College (KREC), which has since been renamed as National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK), Surathkal, off Mangaluru. She graduated with the distinction of being the gold medallist in June 1998.

Young Renita was selected in the campus recruitment drive by Citicorp Information Technologies Industries Ltd., (CITIL, which became iFlex and has now transformed into Oracle Financial Services. She worked in the organisation for two years in Bengaluru, first in Programming and then in Quality Control and Testing.

Writing Career in UK

After her marriage in 2000, she moved to UK with her husband and joined LogicaCMG from November 2000, where she worked as part of the test team and team leader till the birth of her daughter and quit her job in September 2005, to become a full-time housewife.

With a daughter and son, her hands were always full and got free time for herself only after the kids started nursery schooling and began writing. However, she joined courses in creative writing before taking up writing seriously as she confesses, “I like to study and prepare myself before taking up any new venture.’’

“As I am from coastal Karnataka with deep roots in Mangaluru and Udupi as well as my stay in Bengaluru and now in UK, I am privileged to have wide options to select the background for my writing based on the culture, ethos and living conditions,’’ she says.

Renita has been a voracious reader since her childhood. She got immersed in reading books as a child with her father, an avid reader himself, was working as a scientist at Rajasthan Atomic Power station, Kota, had the habit of bringing loads of all types of books, whenever he used to visit home. The father passed on the reading habit to his children and Renita took to it like a fish to water. Her mother, Hilda, is a capable educationist and has served as a teacher and professor for well over 40 years, retiring as Vice Principal of the Milagres College, Kallianpur.

She says, “I owe my passion for reading and writing to the habits inculcated in me by my parents and siblings – Irita and Stephen – who are all deeply interested in reading.’’ But, she says, her husband Loy Osmond Santhosh D’Souza, who did his Mechanical Engineering in University Visveswaraya College of Engineering (UVCE), Bengaluru, and is now working as a consultant in UK, has always been supportive.

“My husband and children are my source of support even when I am down and, of course, they are my in-house critics. I feel blessed,’’ he adds.

The names of published books are: Monsoon Memories, The Forgotten Daughter, The Stolen Girl, A Sister’s Promise, A Mother’s Secret, A Daughter’s Courage, Beneath an Indian Sky, The Girl in the Painting, The Orphan’s Gift, The War Child and The Spice Maker’s Secret.

Twitter: @RenitaDSilva
Facebook: RenitaDSilvaBooks



By Gabriel Vaz
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Comment on this article

  • Hilda D Silba, Kallianpur

    Fri, Jan 05 2024

    Thank you Mr.Vaz for the beautiful write up I thank God for the blessings and Renita being am author of interesting books Congratulations Rennu and God bless

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