Sunday, September 30, 2012

A real writer in the herd

"A writer is a solitary creature, engaged in his solitary, imaginary, private business. It makes no difference where he lives–in Ekaterinburg, Moscow, or New York. When writers flock together for some common goal I begin to have doubts:is there a real writer in the herd?"

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kristín Ómarsdóttir Interview

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Deborah Levy interview

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Salman Rushdie on current status of "The Satanic Verses"

"One of the things I’m pleased about now is that people are reading it like a book at last. Reading it like a novel, after all these years. After almost a quarter of a century, it’s finally being allowed to be a novel. And then it has the ordinary life of a novel.  Some people love it, some people are bored by it, some people like it a bit. All of that, which is all fine. People are finally having a literary response to it." 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pankaj Mishra reviews Joseph Anton

No text in our time has had contexts more various and illuminating than The Satanic Verses, or mixed politics and literature more inextricably, and with deeper consequences for so many. In Joseph Anton, however, Rushdie continues to reveal an unwillingness or inability to grasp them, or to abandon the conceit, useful in fiction but misleading outside it, that the personal is the geopolitical.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An excerpt from Orhan Pamuk's second novel SILENT HOUSE

Read an excerpt  from Orhan Pamuk’s second novel,Silent House, first published in 1983 and now available in English for the first time

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jeet Thayil on Narcopolis

And there is certainly a storyline in Narcopolis, though the line digresses in the manner of a nineteenth century Russian novel. In that way it is absolutely conventional. It’s only unconventional when you think of it in a purely Indian context. It is a novel that makes sense in terms of structure only when you get well into Book Three. It is a challenging book: it expects the reader to put in some work. Which, in today’s context, is a risky thing to do, but there you have it.

Jeet Thayil interview

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Deborah Levy on mainstream literary publishing

It’s quite sad to see how decent people involved in mainstream literary publishing have become toadies to the perceived tastes of the ‘market’. This is all due for a change and everyone knows it. The international Occupy movement has so astutely chimed with popular disgust at an exhausted and failing corporate culture. If I let ‘the market’ write my books for me and tell me what I think and how you think and what we are like, what kind of conversation would I be having with my readers? What kind of conversation would they be having with me?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jeet Thayil Interview

"I knew Narcopolis would not find its readers immediately. I expected an adverse reaction in India, but I didn’t expect it to be quite as adverse as it has been.  There’s a new prosperity and a new jingoism here that doesn’t account for dissenting views. The rich have become richer and the middle class has expanded, but the poor, who outnumber everybody else, have stayed poor. This is something the middle class prefers not to think about. And they certainly don’t want it written about in a book that might be read by people in other countries.Outlook magazine said: “Sleaze sells India like nothing else can. So Narcopolistries.” A newspaper called DNA said it was “one of the worst novels written in the English language anywhere.” And Tehelka said the book was “like waiting for a really long goods-train to trundle by.” Interestingly, the bad reviews were only in India, even the Pakistanis have been more generous."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tan Twan Eng interview

How have you lived with the terror of your homeland's history -- World War II through the "Emergency" that finally ended in 1960 -- that you recreated in your books? Both books must have taken years to write, which means you must have had to endure long years of inhabiting the historically accurate world you had to conjure forth on the page?
I've always been interested in that period of our past, so I had been reading up and collecting materials on it for years. When I wrote The Gift of Rain, I had all the details I needed in my head and it was a just matter of crafting the story. There comes a point when the writer has to forget his research and just, simply, tell the tale.
   Writing The Garden of Evening Mists, on the other hand, required more extensive research. The settings and the time period were different from Gift's, and I was never much of a gardening man, so it took a lot of work to learn how to create a Japanese garden. But the more research I did, the more fascinated I became with it and the more I appreciated it; I realized that the principles of gardening could be applied to life, too.
   Dealing with the horrors of the Japanese Occupation and the violence of the Malayan Emergency was at times emotionally draining, but it's the writer's responsibility to feel, and then to convey those emotions to the readers, otherwise the writing will come across as lifeless.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Zadie Smith interview

To me writing is deeply irrational, idiosyncratic, because its medium – language – has so much ambiguity built into it. That argument that Alice and Humpty Dumpty have about the instability of meaning that’s the epigraph of a million graduate dissertations… Language is the absurd bit of writing that can’t be entirely suppressed or controlled by journalistic ideas like ‘state of thenation’ novels. Maybe the phrase, if it’s used at all, is best used satirically, as Amis used it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis on 2012 Man Booker shortlist!

I'm glad Jeet Thayil's first novel Narcopolis has made the cut. It is set around a Bombay opium den in the 1970s and '80s, with a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs.
Jeet is basically a poet, songwriter and guitarist. He lives in New Delhi.
Critics have likened Narcopolis to William Burroughs's Junky and Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Read an excerpt from Salman Rushdie's new book Joseph Anton

The New Yorker has published a long excerpt from Salman Rushdie's new book called Joseph Anton. 

He thought of writers he loved and tried combinations of their names. Vladimir Joyce. Marcel Beckett. Franz Sterne. He made lists of such combinations, but all of them sounded ridiculous. Then he found one that did not. He wrote down, side by side, the first names of Conrad and Chekhov, and there it was, his name for the next eleven years. Joseph Anton.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Zadie Smith on writing a novel

Whenever I write a novel I’m reminded of the essential hubris of criticism. When I write criticism I’m in such a protected position: here are my arguments, here are my blessed opinions, here is my textual evidence, here my rhetorical flourish. One feels very pleased Whenever I write a novel I’m reminded of the essential hubris of criticism. with oneself. Fiction has none of these defences. You are just a fool with a keyboard. It’s much harder. More frightening. At the same time, I work really hard on my novels, so when I return to reviewing I expect the novels I read to really have something going on. Not perfection, because I know that’s impossible and not really even desirable – but some kind of genuine urgency. Some risk has to have been taken. Something in the book has to be genuinely fresh: perspective, language, form, ideas, something.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Another Pankaj Mishra interview

I think the days in which I would imagine a writer working in a vacuum, isolated from all political currents, producing [work] for a small minority of sophisticated readers, those days never really existed first of all, and those days are more and more remote now. I guess it’s very easy to dramatise this as ‘writers as activists’. But it’s much simpler than that. You are in this world, you have certain experiences of the world, you have to be truthful about those experiences. And when those experiences are misrepresented in public, then you have to speak up. Otherwise, you do injustice to yourself, your experiences, your writing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Salman Rushdie has a new book

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Understanding Murakami

What is it that makes a Murakami novel or short story so compelling? Why does he use various signs and symbols to enrich his plots? What is his take on colonialism, capitalism and all that? The Quarterly Conversation dissects all of these things, and more,  in its current issue through a bunch of essays under the caption  MURAKAMI ROUNDTABLE. Recommended for all literary enthusiasts.

Signs and symbols are essential to a Murakami novel. Sometimes Murakami gives us an explanation that’s meant to be a sign: a scientist explains that certain events have changed a character’s neural pathways, and that’s why she’s a new person. Sometimes Murakami gives us a symbol: the narrator of Hard-Boiled Wonderland says that his explanation is just something he made up for convenience’s sake. Occasionally, Murakami makes it very clear that something is to be a sign or a symbol, but far more often he leaves it vague. The essence of a Murakami novel is his exploitation of our uncertainty as to whether a story is a sign or a symbol.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ian McEwan interview

As you become older you know you only have 20 or 30 summers left, if you’re lucky, and you want the project,the human project, to continue, whereas in my 20s I was quite interested in it failing. It  didn’t trouble me emotionally.

Herta Müller on writing

Eat everything you play with. That could be a definition for writing. Who knows: I have to eat everything I write, and what I don’t write devours me. Even though I eat it, it doesn’t disappear. And even though it consumes me, I don’t disappear. The same thing always happens during writing, when words want to be something else in order to be accurate, when objects become independent and verbal images steal what doesn’t belong to them. Perhaps it’s precisely during writing, when words become something else in order to be accurate, that what’s operating is always the same snow and always the same uncle.

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