Friday, November 30, 2012

2012 Cervantes Prize | Kurt Vonnegut’s Letters | Indian literature for kids

2012 Cervantes Prize
Spanish poet and essayist Jose Manuel Caballero Bonald has won the 2012 Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor.

Kurt Vonnegut's Letters
Reading these letters, it seemed like Kurt Vonnegut’s biggest obstacle to happiness was Kurt Vonnegut.

 Indian literature for kids
Complete with a think tank, a doodle wall and an outdoor bookstore the children’s literature festival, Bookaroo 2012, was a mini wonderland of sorts that brought together authors, illustrators, storytellers and publishers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Writing routines of Famous Writers

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mikhail Shishkin interview

The everyday language in Russia has been changing very quickly in the last years as the everyday life has. But what sounds fresh today will stink rotten tomorrow. As a writer you must make a choice: try to catch up with the slang or create your own language that will be fresh and alive always, even after you pass. My “exile” helped me to realize that I should make the right choice. I think my experience living outside Russia somehow makes my books more readily accessible to non-Russians. Several Russian generations in the 20th century spent their lifetime in jail. They developed their own way of thinking and speaking. The leakproof prison reality gave birth to a very special subculture. And Western readers cannot identify themselves with Russian exotica. It is time not to rummage in exotic Russian problems but rather writing about the “human being” to bring Russia back to the world. Russian literature is worth it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nobel Prize to Mo Yan a catastrophe? | Anna Sun on Mo Yan's language

 Nobel Prize to Mo Yan a catastrophe!
Herta Mueller, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, says the choice to give this year’s award to Mo Yan is a “catastrophe” that never should have happened, and accuses the Chinese writer of praising the Asian country’s tough censorship laws.
Anna Sun on Mo Yan's language
 Open any page, and one is treated to a jumble of words that juxtaposes rural vernacular, clichéd socialist rhetoric, and literary affectation. It is broken, profane, appalling, and artificial; it is shockingly banal. The language of Mo Yan is repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Being a writer in a democratic society

"The idea that there are no constraints on writers [in democratic society] is a mistake. There are constraints even in the US and I myself experienced those constraints around 9/11 and 2001. We experienced literary censorship.
The real threat to freedom of expression in our times doesn’t really come from the government. In most parts of the world now it comes from non-state actors like extremist groups or other various kinds. In India, various kinds of identity groups object to someone saying this or that."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Irina Bogatyreva interview

" Every text demands its own time. If an event, a place, a person grabs me and wants to be written about, but for some reason still cannot be expressed, it just hasn’t found its time. It’s not yet ripe. Only gradually will it blossom, tucked away in my soul, and then it takes its form and words. And then I can write about it."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Literary Review bad sex award 2012

The 20th annual award for the most embarrassing passage of sexual description in a literary novel - no pornographic or expressly erotic literature -   will take place on Tuesday 4 December 2012. .

Follow the interesting tweets at Literary Review's tweeter account.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mo Yan according to Howard Goldblatt

 Howard Goldblatt is Mo Tan's translator for last twenty years, and has translated nine books—seven novels, a collection of stories, and a short memoir.
The core of Mo Yan’s work is the act and nature of narration. He is a master of fable and fantasy, multiple narrations, and stylistic switchings. “POW!” is a fine example of all these.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mario Vargas Llosa discusses culture with Gilles Lipovetsky

" I believe Proust is important for everyone; although some might not know how to read, what Proust said is of benefit to them, too, despite their not being in a position to read him. He created a type of sensibility vis-à-vis certain things that made individuals capable of being affected by it more sensitive to the situation of more impoverished people. And he made them aware that there were certain human rights. This type of sensibility is the result of culture. When culture isn't behind this sensibility, it is extraordinarily debilitated. This explains why, despite Europe having lived through the atrocious experience of the Holocaust, not only has antisemitism not disappeared but it is periodically reborn. It explains why xenophobia, which is a universal failing, breaks out again, not in primitive, uncultured societies but in extremely cultured societies and in precisely those parts of them that Proust, Eliot or Joyce's Ulysses never reach."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Alasdair Gray interview | Orhan Pamuk on his daily writing routine

"All big jobs know better than their artists how long they will need to be properly finished."

I don’t look at emails, internet or newspapers before 1pm. I wake at 7am, eat fruit, drink tea or coffee, and read what I’ve achieved, or not achieved, the previous day. Then I take a shower, and work on my next sentence until 1pm. After I’ve done emails and so on I write again from 3pm until 8pm; then I socialise.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lit News: Mikhail Shiskin's Maidenhair is now available in English

Good news for lit lovers: Mikhail Shiskin’s 2005 novel Maidenhair,  is now available in English translation.  “This is the kind of book they give the Nobel Prize for,” a literary critic once said about this book.

“Maidenhair” is not light reading. The interlocking narratives fuse and fragment in this literary masterpiece, whose ambitious goal encompasses the recreation of language in order to express truths about love and death, loss and happiness. One idea that weaves its way into each of the stories is that “whoever can be happy right now, should,” that pain and joy are connected: “True enjoyment of life can only be felt if you’veknown suffering.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vladimir Makanin wins European Prize for literature

 Born in 1937 in Orsk. Studied math at Moscow State University and filmmaking at a Moscow film school;  a former math teacher with love of chess, Makanin lives in Moscow.

Makanin used chess pieces as a metaphor for writing, saying that white is for topics he knows fairly well and black is for little-known topics that he likens to a “dark forest” that requires him to “slowly get in touch with the topic” and avoid quick decisions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chika Unigwe interview

Q: Prostitution, loneliness and  human trafficking are issues in Diaspora narratives. How much of these issues form the aesthetic strands of On the Black Sisters Street?
A: Whatever theme I pursue in my works, I strive to write pleasurable prose. I see that as one of the most fundamental obligations of a writer: to write prose which is beautiful, that entertains the reader.  Tolstoy in Anna Karenina writes of Anna’s suicide in such delicious prose that the darkness does not completely overwhelm one.  On Black Sisters Streets’ themes of loneliness and prostitution are not the lightest of themes, but I hope the prose makes the themes much more digestable to the readers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Amos Oz interview

I wish there will come a time when people read my works - my stories and my novels - without inserting… the question, 'Is Israel good or bad? Has Israel the right to exist or should it die?' I wish that such a time will come. In fact, for me, the fulfillment of the Zionist dream will occur when Israel is removed once and for all from the front pages and news pages and instead occupies the literary supplements, the musical supplements, the gardening supplements. That would be the day."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I did the best what I could do with what I had: Philip Roth

“I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing. And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Painting and Literature

"I am a happier person when I paint, but I feel that I am engaged more deeply with the world when I write. Yes, painting and literature are “sister arts” .." 
-- Orhan Pamuk

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Read an excerpt from 419 by Will Ferguson

A car, falling through darkness.

End over end, one shuddering thud following another. Fountains of glass showering outward and then -- a vacuum of silence collapsing back in.

The vehicle came to rest on its back, at the bottom of an embankment below the bridge and propped up against a splintered stand of poplar trees. You could see the path it had taken through the snow, leaving a churned trail of mulch and wet leaves in its wake.

Read on..

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why attack V S Naipaul in that shrill fashion, Mr Girish Karnad?

 “My question is to organizers who keep giving him lifetime award as though what he has to say about a large section of the Indian population, about a whole rich period of Indian history which was our glory, does n’t matter."

I'm somewhat baffled by Girish Karnad lashing out at Naipaul in this way. He echoes what William Dalrymple accused Naipaul of, a few years ago. Nothing new or ingenious. I knew Karnad as a good playwright and  actor (despite his acting in some silly movies), but never imagined he was also capable of staging such a high drama on a platform not really meant for his histrionic talents.

One should understand that V S Naipul's strength, as a writer, lies not in his non-fiction, but in his fiction. Read his novels, and you would know why he's a great writer who deserves a lifetime award. He might be openly biased, even vociferous at times in his non-fiction - how many of us are rational? - but he's not really anti-Muslim as some of us conceive. Just consider, a trivial point though,  he has been living with Nadira, a Muslim lady from Pakistan, for quite a long time. 

Why attack a veteran writer, and an octogenarian at that, in that shrill and uncivilized manner, Mr Karnad?

( Updated on 10/11/12: Here is a well thought-out response of Anil Dharker, the festival director of Tata literature Live, to Girish Karnad's diatribe:

Your other assumption of Naipaul being anti-Muslim is debatable to say the least. He's married to a Muslim, and has been for the last 17 years. His wife's two children from her previous marriage are being brought up as Muslims, all of which would be unlikely if he he were against the religion as you claim to be. In spite of that it is quite possible that Naipaul's view of history may not be as rounded as it should be in that he ignores Hindu -Muslim collaborations of that era which resulted in great art, music and architecture. But many historians - or those who write about history - use a particular focus to their approach to history. Marxists historians are a case in point. Whether they should, or shouldn't, is a good subject for debate.

Source: Anil Dharker's post-ed "A matter of debate" in The Hindustan Times dated Nov 10, 2012) 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Creative writing is boom industry, but ..

"It interests me that creative writing is the boom industry right at the time when publishing is tanking. A new generation will have to work out how to make a living from the maddest thing anyone can do – sit down to write."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

V S Naipaul at Tata Literature Live | Nilanjana Roy on Indian writing in English| Junot Diaz's multi -culti cred

V S Naipaul at Tata Literature Live
“I wrote that 50 years ago. It has a life and a figure of its own — it’s there and you have to accept it. He explained that A Million Mutinies was an exploration of India’s modernities in anti-clockwise chronological order.”

Nilanjana Roy on Indian writing in English
"...much of this writing is made for the moment, or is mindlessly derivative, or in urgent need of editing and a grammar check. You hear of editors who’re working on over 20-30 books a year—how do you expect them to do a good job? What is remarkable, though, is the number of young writers who work to higher standards than the industry currently demands, and who feel no pressure to write a certain kind of big India novel—they’ve found their own themes and voices." 

Junot Daiz’s muti-culti cred

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