KHAIWOON — The rainy season in Khaiwoon is sometimes called the “reading season,” that long stretch of hot, humid days between May and September when the city-state experiences roughly two meters of rainfall and people tend to spend many evenings indoors, away from the thunderstorms, with air conditioning and a good book. And every October when the rains end, the Times of Khaiwoon names its “Best Monsoon Novel” — the best novel that was available during the rainy season — one of the most prestigious honors in modern Khaiwoonese literature.
For the first time ever, this year’s winner is a science-fiction novel: Love Database, by Khaiwoonese author Jamie Khanra. Khanra imagines a future Khaiwoon in which a supercomputer has been put in charge of a wide range of social processes, including matchmaking. To this end it administers an enormous Love Database, containing everything it can possibly learn about the hearts and desires of every citizen of the country, and it utilizes the Love Database to arrange romantic encounters for the entire population.
The novel follows several people from all walks of life as they navigate the surprisingly unlikely choices the Love Database makes for them, and how their lives change as a result. A mixture of comedy, drama, and love story — with a fair amount of philosophy thrown in for good measure — the novel becomes an exploration of the often enormous gap between what people think will make them happy and what actually will.
Khanra, 37, a graduate of the University of Khaiwoon, is a computer programmer and first time author who had been working on the story in his spare time for over five years, before finally getting it published in February. He said he has been amazed by the novel’s success in the bookstores, yet still never imagined that it would be selected for this award.
“It’s a shock,” he told reporters at his apartment in the Oktogon Hill neighborhood this morning. “It’s a huge honor. I just hope my story, and this story, will be an inspiration to help people reach deep inside their hearts and discover whatever path will make them truly happy in life.”