Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Robert McCrum on Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies

Mantel has made her career with fiction and non-fiction of stunning originality. Naturally brave, she has been the opposite of predictable. This novel, however, is nothing if not reassuring. First, it takes one of medieval England's greatest thrillers (the persecution, trial and death of Anne Boleyn) and gives it a clever contemporary spin. Mixed with sharp, modern dialogue, the narrative exploits the historic present tense to give an essentially hardcore historical novel some extra literary pizzazz.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mario Vargas Llosa's mind | Nadeem Aslam on his writing life| Nabokov's lecture on Kafka's The Metamorphosis

Mario Vargas Llosa must be one of the few great writers ever to have argued that society should place less trust in great writers. “The mandarin writer no longer has a place in today’s world,” he has observed. “Figures like Sartre in France or Ortega y Gasset and Unamuno in their time, or Octavio Paz, served as guides and teachers on all the important issues and filled a void that only the ‘great writer’ seemed capable of filling, whether because few others participated in public life, because democracy was nonexistent, or because literature had a mythical prestige.” But today, “in a free society, the influence that a writer exerts—sometimes profitably—over submissive societies is useless.”

The City has an interesting article by Adam Kirsch on Mario Vargas Llosa. the 1980 Nobel Laureate, who defends liberty and reason, and at the same time seems fascinated by fanaticism and violence.

Nadeem Aslam on his writing life
"I've more or less realised my writing has cost me almost everything. Sometimes friendship, love – because there's not enough time to be with people, and never enough money. Work can take so much out of you, with 12- or 13-hour days. A study is a laboratory first – then a factory."

Nabokov's lecture on Kafka's The Metamorphosis

         The Kafka Project has a new post.
Of course, no matter how keenly, how admirably, a story, a piece of music, a picture is discussed and analyzed, there will be minds that remain blank and spines that remain unkindled. "To take upon us the mystery of things"—what King Lear so wistfully says for himself and for Cordelia—this is also my suggestion for everyone who takes art seriously. A poor man is robbed of his overcoat (Gogol's "The Greatcoat," or more correctly "The Carrick"); another poor fellow is turned into a beetle (Kafka's "The Metamorphosis)—so what? There is no rational answer to "so what." We can take the story apart, we can find out how the bits fit, how one part of the pattern responds to the other; but you have to have in you some cell, some gene, some germ that will vibrate in answer to sensations that you can neither define, nor dismiss. Beauty plus pity—that is the closest we can get to a definition of art. Where there is beauty there is pity for the simple reason that beauty must die: beauty always dies, the manner dies with the matter, the world dies with the individual. If Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" strikes anyone as something more than an entomological fantasy, then I congratulate him on having joined the ranks of good and great readers.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dave Eggers on Future of Publishing

There's never been a better time, I don't think, to be a writer or publisher. The playing field is more democratic than ever, in that any small publisher can get a book to any reader in the world with relative ease. That's very new, and good for everyone. I'm also encouraged because it looks like ebooks' share of the market might be levelling out. I always hoped there'd be a plateau, and after that, ebooks and physical books would enjoy a kind of permanent détente. At least for the moment, that seems to be what's happening.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jeet Thayil wins the DSC Prize 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Man Booker International Prize 2013 finalists

Anyone who could have guessed even five of the 10 novelists who have just been revealed as the finalists for the fifth Man Booker International Prize deserves a mass cap-doffing from the wider reading public. 

I'm familiar with works of just two of these novelists: U.R Ananthamurty (India) and Intizar Hossain (Pakistan). Both of them are iconic writers, and hugely respected across the sub-continent. Hossain's classic Urdu novel "Basti" has recently been translated  by Columbia University South Asian scholar  Frances Pritchett.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Junot Diaz as new prose Messiah | John O'Brien as publishing messiah

Junot Diaz
New prose Messiahs are often announced but rarely stick around. Junot Diaz might well be the real thing for American prose: his has been celebrated for being lithe and alive since his first book, Drown, but more so since the Pulitzer-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

John O'Brien
The most interesting writers for me are the ones who do the unexpected, the ones who take big risks and want to do what hasn't been done before. Oftentimes, this newness will be formal in nature, but just as often it's a newness in how the world is perceived. This literature is everywhere present, but is kept safely in its place and generally ignored. I suppose that one perverse point I wanted to make is that the impulse to write a novel is an impulse to have fun, to play with the form: that this is the origin of fiction and novel writing, and that this kind of writing can be found in all countries and cultures.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Globalization debasing literature?

"As a result of rapidly accelerating globalization we are moving toward a world market for literature. There is a growing sense that for an author to be considered “great,” he or she must be an international rather than a national phenomenon. This change is not perhaps as immediately evident in the US as it is in Europe, thanks to the size and power of the US market and the fact that English is generally perceived as the language of globalization, so that many more translations go away from it than toward it. However, more and more European, African, Asian and South American authors see themselves as having “failed” if they do not reach an international audience."

Monday, January 21, 2013

George Orwell in the air | What is a great book?

George Orwell Day 
"Orwell is in the air. I think he is very relevant today. He puts truth before self. Very few of us can bear to do that. It's a vocation. But nonetheless, we need people to do that, and he reminds us of that. It's that bleak realism, expressed beautifully – it is what will keep us decent … Both his writing and in an odd kind of way his personal life stand for integrity. If there was one value that politicians, bankers and journalists, and in a curious way our society as a whole, needs, it's no jargon, and more integrity."

Ogochukwu Promise on great books
Great books never fail to leave something of their greatness in the hearts and minds of people who read them. Books that are thoughtfully, painstakingly and skillfully written; books that tell poignant truths about the state of our affairs, motivating us, enlightening us with the depth of their meaning, wealth of their language – full of grace, candour and meaning are worthy of being pored over.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Melville House principle

"We try to stay on top of the basic scene, but on the other hand, I don’t really care about the basic scene. I don’t really care what the big houses are publishing. I don’t really care what the big media is selecting to review and write about. We’re trying to do something different, and I don’t want to get too bogged down in that stuff, because we might start to publish that stuff. We’re following our own artistic tastes and our own political tastes. Often enough, that really works"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Philippe Claudel interview

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daniel. Selvaraj interview

"Frankly speaking, all my works can be classified as propaganda literature. But when the writer resorts to faithful description of life, his works will not appear to be propaganda. It has also been said that the characters in Tolstoy’s monumental work War and Peace are the combination of historical figures of the Napoleon era and the imaginary characters of the ancient Greek poet Homer. I have adopted this technique in my novels."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Age of trade publishing over?| Haruki Murakami app

Age of trade publishing over
For much of the market bookshops are now irrelevant – they will continue to exist and for the upper ends of the market will remain important, but they are no longer the commercial motor of publishing. Online is. And online is a marketing black hole: it will eat everything you throw at it and come back for more.

 Haruki Murakami App 
Of course, it's  a fun app especially for Murakami fans. You would now get Murakami diary app in iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Despite being a promotional device, it's a calendar, with entries from Apple's iCal system and quotes from Murakami's backlist of novels and short stories – all sharable via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lit News: Antonio Munoz Molina wins the Jerusalem Biennial Prize for 2013

Spanish novelist Antonio Munoz Molina, the author of A Manuscript of Ashes and Sepharad,  has been awarded the Jerusalem Biennial Prize for 2013.

 Munoz Molina, according to the jury,  is 'one of the world's greatest literary figures of the 20th. and 21th. Centuries.'

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ma Thida interview | why write novel in the beginning?

Ma Thida interview
As a doctor I do scientific work, but as a writer and editor I do an artist’s work. I feel I’m useful to the Burmese people by using two different professional skills.”

Why write novel in the beginning?
There is an interesting thread in the Reddit started by a musician who asks: I have done some research and have found that many of my favorite authors began as journalist and short story writers. This did not surprise me at all. Why then isn't this the norm?
There are some cool, well thought-out responses too. Check it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A conversation between George Saunders and his editor

 Ward: The role of fiction.
Saunders: Transfer energy from writer to reader.
Ward: The role of short fiction.
Saunders: Do that quicker.
Ward: Realism.
Saunders: Realism is to fiction what gravity is to walking: a confinement that allows dancing under the right circumstances.
Ward: Your reputation as a satirist.
Saunders: Slight thorn in my side.

Source:: The Slate Book of Review 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

George Saunders interview/2

I guess my point is, I know I write about class, but I try not to think about writing about class because then it can be reductive. Suddenly you're a crusader, whereas if you let the subconscious lead you, it often is about class and about something else.  That guy (in "The Semplica-Girl Diaries") has class issues, but he also has personal issues and you kind of don't know what they are until you let him talk for 30 or 40 pages. I do think in American life, work and scarcity — or maybe paucity — and the possibility of failure has always been just huge for me. I suspect it's the same for a lot of people whether they're wealthy or poor.

George Saunders interview/1

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