Monday, February 23, 2009

Daniel Klein: a real real writer

Berkshire Record Online publishes an interesting profile of Daniel Klein, who started his writing career as a ghost-writer, and went on to get his first book published after being rejected by as many as forty pubishers.

Klein's new novel “The History of Now" has received highly favorable prepublication reviews, and has been compared to the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Empire Falls” by Richard Russo, also set in a small New England community. The American Booksellers Association, the trade group for independent bookstores, has designated it a “notable” new book.

I like small towns, where life is comprehensible. I’ve lived in Great Barrington for 30 years, and I’ve liked hearing the stories about people I meet every day on the street when I go from the office to the post office. These are the incremental tales of real people in real life.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why Murakami accepted Jerusalem Prize

Ghaza is no problem for the Japanese novelist

"I asked myself -- is visiting Israel the proper thing to do? Will I be supporting one side.

"I gave is it some thought. And I decided to come. Like most novelists, I like to do exactly the opposite of what I'm told.

"Novelists can't trust anything they haven't seen with their own eyes or touched with heir own hands. So I chose to see. I chose to speak here rather than say nothing.

more ..

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Daniyal Mueenuddin: new comet of English writing?

Oulook news magazine publishes an article on Daniyal Mueenuddin

For the first time possibly in the subcontinent, we have a writer who is not only a first-rate craftsman of words, but is equally comfortable writing about a fading feudal aristocracy as about a class of characters that has been largely absent in English language fiction in the subcontinent: cooks, servants, electricians, hangers-on and thieves.

In the same issue, Sunil Sethi reviews Daniel Mueenuddin's book In Other Rooms, Other Words

Mueenuddin’s stories are contemporary, their observation of the rhythms of rural life in Pakistan made acute by the glinting knife underneath. The outbreaks of disaster are presaged by illicit relationships across boundaries of class, community and the age gap. (In many of the stories, lonely married men set up with indigent younger women till the mirror cracks.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Aamer Hussein Interview

London-based Pakistani writer Aamer Hussein is interviewed at Tehelka.

Good books find their readers eventually. Qurratulain Hyder's splendid postmodern saga, Fireflies in the Mist, was virtually unnoticed when it first came out in her own English version in the mid- 1990s, but it’s been reprinted to some acclaim now that she is being given her due in anglophone circles as a major writer rather than merely a major Urdu writer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is active politics right for a literary writer?

News: Former United Nations diplomat and writer Shashi Tharoor is set to enter politics. He’s already been approached by the Congress to contest upcoming LokSabha elections.

The question is: why is Shashi joining politics? When does a writer join politics? Is it right for a writer to do a plotician's nasty job?

Or, was writing just a passtime, never a vocation, for Shashi Tharoor? Mind you he was a diplomat for the best part of his life and even contested for UN's general secretary's post. His diplomatic career is now over, and he's kind of unemployed right now.

We've heard of activist writers like Mahasweta Devi, Arundhati Roy and Hasan Azizul Huq. Shashi's is not definitely a case of activism, but plain careerism. Some say he built up his writer's reputation, not so much by his merit or passion or talent as by using his position. May be he now hits the end of his road, and what other option than to join politics in this Indian soil!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The other Saadat Hasan Manto

It's interesting to note that the new issue of A Public Space includes a portfolio on Saadat Hasan Manto, the great Urdu writer who lived in Bombay in the 1940s and 1950s, perhaps best known for his Partition stories. But Matt Reeck has put together a portfolio that looks at his other great subject: Bombay

It was a blow to have to leave Bombay, where I had lived such a busy life.
Bombay had taken me in, a wandering outcast thrown out by even his family. She had told me, “You can live happily here on two paise a day or on ten thousand rupees. Or if you want, you can be the saddest person in the world at either price. Here you can do whatever you want, and no one will think you’re strange. Here no one will tell you what to do. You will have to do
every difficult thing on your own, and you will have to make every important
decision by yourself. I don’t care if you live on the sidewalk or in a
magnificent mansion, I don’t care if you stay or go. I’ll always be here.” I
was disconsolate after leaving Bombay. My good friends were there. I had
gotten married there. My first child was born there, as was my second. There
I had gone from earning a couple rupees a day to thousands - hundreds of
thousands - and there I had spent it all. I loved it, and I still do!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tarun Tejpal : a literary animal

Tarun Tejpal inhabits two worlds: journalism and literature. In the world of investigative journalism, his status is that of a high-profile rock star. In literature too, he's making waves.

I came to journalism because there was no vocation at that time called ‘full time writing’ really possible on the subcontinent.” Describing himself as a “literary animal”, he explains that the tide has turned now. “There been so much success and involvement in journalism that this has become my life. Today, I see no dissonance in that... I straddle two worlds: that of the kind of journalism I wish to do and that of the fiction which I love to write.”

Saturday, February 7, 2009

It's good time to be a Pakistani writer

I've read bits of Kamila Shamsie and like her writing. I'm interested in works of Mohammed Hanif and Nadeem Aslam. I've read Moni Mohsin's interesting columns in an Indian daily. I've recently read an interview with Daniyal Mueenuddin, and though unimpresed, I would like to read one or two of his stories.

But Pakistani writing in English is hot to Indian publishers right now. "It’s grittier, blacker, more sardonic and more engaged than much of contemporary Indian writing in English", saya an editor-in-chief of a publishing house. She must know.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Kolkata Book Fair ( Jan 27 to Feb 9 )

Kolkata Book Fair, Asia's largest book fair, and the most attended book fair in the world - about 2 million visitors- has shifted its venue to Milan Mela ground this year. The venue - way too distant from the centre of the city - is conspicuous by its lack of structure. It does not have any transformer for proper arrangements of elctricity or any water supply system, let alone any adequate fire-fighting measures.

I've been so put off by the venue and its lack of structure that I've decided not to visit it this year. Oh, I remember I didn't visit last year's book fair even. Actually, I have never been a book fair regular.

But I've some happy memories when the book fair was held in ever-green Maidan. One of my favourite haunts was the Bangladesh section of the fair. I visited the Bangladesh Publishers' stalls with sharp eye on new titles by authors across the border. On one occasion, I remember I bought complete works of Syed Waliullah. On another occasion, I was frantically looking for a new title by Hasan Azizul Huq, but most stalls were selling crappy bestsellers by Bangladeshi authors. At long last I got the book in a small stall.

Yet another lingering memory is that of Subimal Misra, the anti-establshment fictioneer, selling his books under a big and colourful umbrella with placrds requesting audiences to read anti-establishment writers and writing.

Last time I visted the book fair at Maidan, I bought a translated copy of Don Quixote, and a novel by Henry James. But both were awful, the first one for bad rendering, and I never got around to reading those two books.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Yorker's homage to John Updike

He was American literature’s great noticer, and his work was always a reminder of the texture, the detail of life: of flesh, of the drape of clothes, of a way of speaking, a quality of light. Two works, neglected by the obituarists, stay in my mind: a lovely essay on the experiences of being barefoot on Martha’s Vineyard, and the utterly persuasive Africa of his novel “The Coup.” He helped us see. I regard him as a master, appreciative in ways that enlarged his vision and made his writing sing.
Paul Theroux


Sunday, February 1, 2009

10 forbidden classics

Just in time for Valentine's Day, HarperPerennial is releasing new editions of ten “erotic tales” under the flag Forbidden Classics. Have you read any of these titles?

1.Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleaure by John Cleland

2.Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue by D.A.F. Marquis de Sade

3.Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Maso

4.The Way of a Man with a Maid by Anonymous

5.The Autobiography of a Flea by Stanislas de Rhod

6.Sadopaideia by Anonymous

7.The Pearl: Two Erotic Tales by Anonymous

8.My Secret Life by Walte

9.Venus in India by Charles Deverea

10.Emmanuelle by Emmanuelle Arsan, translated by Lowell Bair

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