Mahesh Rao was born and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. He studied politics and economics at the University of Bristol and law at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics. In the UK he has worked as a lawyer, academic researcher and bookseller. His first novel The Smoke is Rising was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt Prize, the Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize, and won the Tata First Book Prize. His short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize and the Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest; his work has appeared in the Baffler and Prairie Schooner. He lives in Mysore, India.