Amal Naj: Taking inspiration from crisis
text size

Amal Naj: Taking inspiration from crisis

Amal Naj: Taking inspiration from crisis
Amal Naj in Bangkok.

Once a powerful executive for a worldwide Big Pharma company, Indian-American author and entrepreneur Amal Naj found his true calling in a hospital in Bangkok during the Covid crisis. Suffering from the virus, involuntarily sequestered in strict quarantine during one of this century's darkest times, he had the chance to reflect on what life really means, who he really wanted to be in life, and how he could truly make a difference in the lives of others.

Naj's experiences in quarantine gave birth to a new book, Pandastic Times, and in turn has spawned a fully-fledged publishing company with an agenda far removed from the Big Three publishers that presently control virtually all of the world's English-language publishing industry: a small publisher, based in New York -- the publishing capital of the world -- a David to challenge three mighty Goliaths.

Pandastic Times is a many-layered book. It can be read as a 21st-century Just So Stories, as a sharp commentary on contemporary society, and as a trenchant reveal of a hidden world beneath the surface of the human world.

To say that the protagonists are animals, and to pigeonhole the book into the subgenre of anthropomorphic children's books, is limiting. Pandastic Times is much more than fable, though it finds its roots in the art of fabulation. It's a story about all of us, a quilt woven from the lives of humans and animals that serves as both warning and redemption.

Naj's first book, Peppers, was published by Knopf, one of New York's most upscale houses, and was a bestseller. It's nonfiction, a quest for the story behind a spice that changed the world, a book that navigates the globe from Bolivia to New Mexico.

This new book takes a completely different journey. The cheekily named Brazen House is an independent publisher, one specialising in authors with unique ideas. Eschewing all the trappings of major house publishing, Brazen House is itself an adventure. It's a publisher with a socially responsible vision -- a new kind of business model in a rapidly changing publishing scene.

Currently, Brazen House is running a competition for a novel that will bring to life the story of Flaco the Owl, the celebrated denizen of New York's Central Park who became an iconic figure when he made his home amid the urban jungle after escaping the confines of the park's protective netting. Information about this exciting new publisher can be found at

Having left Big Pharma behind, Naj has established himself as a prominent figure in the social life of Bangkok. He is now the CEO of a Bangkok-based Berlin pharmaceutical company, with a foot in both the artistic and business worlds. His story is a tribute to the power of Bangkok to transform people's lives and inspire innovative new projects.

Do you like the content of this article?