Saturday, November 26, 2011

Umberto Eco interview

"Literature is a perverse game because it’s too easy to say that the teller pretends that Little Red Riding Hood or Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina is a fiction. Step by step, I want you to lose your critical control and start crying about the fate of Anna Karenina. But then I know that once you finish reading the book, you come back to reality and at the second reading you don’t cry any longer but simply appreciate the way in which I obliged you to cry the first time. That is the perverse literary game. Simonini is more cruel. He wants you to believe. He doesn’t want to show his inner strategy. The writer desires that you discover my strategy. Simonini, no. Every forger wants to be taken seriously."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Indian Litfests: "Buy my book."

In today's Hindustan Times, Farrukh Dhondy has an interesting - and brutally honest - take on Indian literary festivals that are so common now-a-days( sorry, no link is available).

The central idea that emerged, at least in my mind, was that the lack of critical response and debate, the total absence of criteria of what is good, bad, necessary, imitative, blatantly stolen, fresh, redeeming, skilful, pioneering etc will give us a consumer industry in books but no 'culture' of literature.

Dhondi further writes:

The Colonel Sanders and the Ronald McDonalds of the Indian literary scene can be seen at all all the litfests peddling their goods and there is no one, literally no one, to discuss, raise the questions or debate the nourishment or debilitating obesity therein.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Anita Desai interview

The gets writer Kiran Desai to interview her mother Anita Desai, the well-known writer.

KD Your books often refer to a mix of languages. You quote Iqbal and Byron in Clear Light of Day. In Custody is about Hindi and Urdu. You quote a lot of literature in all your novels, mingle it with every geography.

AD Yes, I always give myself away! Well, Urdu was what we heard spoken in Delhi, and it was spoken very beautifully in those days. Then there were the books we bought for ourselves. My father would read Byron and occasionally he would burst out and recite snatches of what he remembered from his schooldays, Byron, Swinburne, Browning, the same scraps over and over again. Oddly enough, he never brought Bengali music into the house, which was such a pity. But perhaps because he came from a political family – he had a soft spot for communism – he loved Russian music. I remember hearing "The Song of the Volga Boatmen" played and played on our gramophone, thinking it so oppressive and dreary. Oma brought back a piano with her, had whole albums of Beethoven and Brahms, Schubert lieder and also her German library, beautifully embossed leather books in the old German script. When my father died and she left Delhi, she gave her books to the library of Delhi University, which had a German department.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Publishing today: editor is a banker now!

"There was a time at the Frankfurt Book Fair when we would rush back to our hotel rooms in the evening to read manuscripts. Now, it all works with a two-page outline. A publisher reads two pages and writes a $100,000 (around Rs.50 lakh) cheque. It’s about investments. The editor has become a banker."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Anne Enright interview

"Recently people have been starting to say that it’s all about sales, that the companies behind it are very proud of the sales of the books, and nobody’s talking about the books. There’s quite big PR machine behind it, and we know how PR machines are. The writer is a kind of incidental figure in the middle of this global PR exercise. Presumably writers dream of having such a thing happen but actually what we dream of is the fantasy of suddenly breaking free from your critics, which is not actually what happens. You’re freed from a certain amount of financial tension, but if you weighed money too much in the balance you’d never become a writer in the first place. When you get into it, it’s for whatever kind of reward is there. Though I am very interested in what money does to people, because I’ve had money and I haven’t. The years from 1993 to 2007 were pretty thin. I’m interested in how stressful it is not to have money, but also how, if you do have money, you cannot imagine what it is not to have it".

Hanan al-Shaykh interview

“In the West they need to label you to understand what you do. I tell [Westerners] that all those tags have become a real burden to me. I also tell them not to pigeonhole everybody. This is racism.”

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