Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tehelka's "original fictions"

Has a newsmagazine got anything to do with literature? Not really. Things it churns out every week are mainly politics, not literature. But this is Tehelka, India's most controversial and real newsmag, which has a track record of fighting fiercely with the Establishment, and suffering in the process interminably at the hands of the power-that-be, but still elects to fight doggedly for people's cause. Interestingly, it has devoted its year-end double issue to "original fictions" by 15 writers.


"..every journalist and politician -people who shape the public domain - should read at least one literary novel every year," writes Tehelka's esteemed editor Tarun J Tejpal. "Just so they can step out of the halogen of self-aggrandisement, look at life bottom-up rather than top-down, enter other lives through backdoor rather than the front, and connect with their own inner lives rather than the image on the screen."

Have you ever read any such comments from any newsmag editor? Who, among our newspaper editors, has such refined tastes and insights?

My sincerest thanks to Tarun for adding this new dimension to his weekly.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Harold Pinter

What a shame that Harold Pinter's death news did not appear on the first page of the morning paper I read; it was tucked down in a single paragraph in the bottom of seventh page!(I'm changing my paper every year, and may perhaps end up without having one. Newspapers are really a shit these days).

Harold Pinter was such a rare personality: real writer, courageous, outspoken without fear of consequences, politically incorrect, with a genuine compassion and concern for the mankind.

Of his all works, I loved his
Nobel Lecture hugely.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ten best short story collections, 2008

BookFox offers ten books for
Best Short Story Collections of 2008. Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth is the only book in the list that I've read partially, but frankly didn't like her banal family theme. But I'm a bit amazed that short story collections are still published - in US, specially-, and there must be some readers like our BookFox who love them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Arundhati Roy is a threat for Indian males

Arundhati Roy is derided by the Indian male as she refuses to be slotted into the “liberated” position that Aishwarya Rai is in. Unlike other Indian women, Arundhati will not be bullied or subjugated into accepting a controlled choice. To us she is closer to the Kali persona than the feminine cult of Sita and Lakshmi, which Indian society so much venerates. Like Kali she is the rebel, the outcast - the slayer of all masculine power. All hail Kali.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bolano story review

Story: Meeting with Enrique Lihn

The story has a single-paragraph text which could have been divided in many, many paragraphs. But why would Bolano do it? He's not your MFA-trained writer that he would be bothered about the look of the text; he must write his own way. Yet it's a wonderfully smooth read: compact, gripping, moving, insightful, evocative and full of experiences, histories and images like you find in big classics. I expected, though, some anarchic element in it.

Look at its opening line:
In 1999, after returning from Venezuela, I dreamed that I was being taken to Enrique Lihn’s apartment, in a country that could well have been Chile, in a city that could well have been Santiago, bearing in mind that Chile and Santiago once resembled Hell, a resemblance that, in some subterranean layer of the real city and the imaginary city, will forever remain.

Everything happens in the writer's dream. The vivid but unnostalgic narrative of his poet-friend Enrique Lihn - as if a non-movie rewind of a colourful life lived in real time and space - unfolds in a very apt and surreal milieu.

I get a feel that Bolano encapsulates a novel's material in the short space of a story. His effortless blend of the real and imaginary, fact and fiction, present and past is simply amazing.

And what a great end:
And we looked and looked, and the façades were clearly the façades of another time, like the sidewalks covered with parked cars that also belonged to another time, a time that was silent yet mobile (Lihn was watching it move), a terrible time that endured for no reason other than sheer inertia.

Read the story here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"New good sex" by famous writers!

It's of course a crazy idea that the world, now deep in recession woes, needs new good sex for its survival. But it's exactly what the new e-book service Ravenous Romance thinks.

What is more, this e-venture is being backed by,among others, John Updike, the well-known American writer and literary icon, who has entertained readers with his varied depiction of sex for quite a while.

How do you feel about this venture? Is it selling soft porno in new garb? Does it point to bankruptcy in ideas? or, do you like it?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Arab Booker shortlist

Six Arab authors were short-listed for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2009 (IPAF) in London.The prize was launched in Abu Dhabi in April last year in association with the Booker Prize Foundation and with the support of the Emirates Foundation. Gulfnews link

short-listed authors:

1.Mohammad El-Bisatie

2.Fawwaz Haddad

3.Ina'am Kachachi

4.Ebrahim Nasrallah

5.Al Habib Al Salmi

6.Yousuf Zaydan

I've read Mohammad El-Bisatie's novel Hunger partially. A wonderfully gripping novel about a theme most writers would avoid these days. Real writing.
An excerpt from the novel .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bolano, Bolano!!

"2666 is an epic of whispers and details, full of buried structures and intuitions that seem too evanescent, or too terrible, to put into words. It demands from the reader a kind of abject submission—to its willful strangeness, its insistent grimness, even its occasional tedium—that only the greatest books dare to ask for or deserve."
Slouching Towards Santa Teresa: Roberto Bolaño's utterly strange masterpiece.

“He didn't set out to do this just to prove something, to experiment, or to make some nihilistic statement. As he said many times, writing was for him a radical way of living, and thus he had to find a vital and arresting and, in some ways, anti-literary approach to fiction.”
A Great Conversation on 2666

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nobel Lecture,2008

"If there is one virtue which the writer's pen must always have, it is that it must never be used to praise the powerful, even with the faintest of scribblings."

Read Le Clezio Nobel lecture

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kafka's office writings

Princeton University Press has just published a selection of Kafka's Office Writings in English. Three scholars -two professional Kafkans, Stanley Corngold, and Benno Wagner, and a law professor and a civil rights attorney, Jack Greenberg, have appended their commentaries, charts, prefaces and postface to these writings.

Despite Kafka, it's excruciatingly boring to read his office writings. So you have to read them as companions to demystify his novels and stories. There is an obvious connection between his office writings and his fiction.


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