Thursday, December 31, 2015

To Figure Out What Your Set of Two or Three Things is

Some people do beautiful nature descriptions. They write great dialogue. They do a really intense neurotic voice. There’s a million different skills that people might turn out to have. So I think part of it is to write enough when you’re young to figure out what your set of two or three things is.

- George Saunders

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Would you buy "A Poetics Of Fiction"?

It's of course a lucrative idea to write a book for aspiring writers who are swarming the physical and cyber spaces across the world and are ready to spend fortunes for their success. But here is a book with atrocious title "A Poetics of Fiction". 400 pages. Six chapters. Title of Chapter One :Open your savings account.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Quratulain Haider:Undisputed Queen of Urdu Literature

The Nation (Pakistan) has an interesting article on Quratulain Haider, arguably the most powerful writer of Urdu Literature.

Although never very vocal about it, Ainee was a feminist through and through. She lived a very independent life on her own terms. Ainee was a working woman all her life.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Page Is well written when...

A page is well written when the labour and pleasure of truthful narration supplant any other concern, including a concern with formal elegance. I belong to the category of writers who throw out the final draft and keep the rough when this practice ensures a higher degree of authenticity.
--Elena Ferrante

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Don DeLillo understands terrorism better than any political expert/political acdemic?

In Aljazeera America, Scott Beauchamp has an interesting observation:

A better guide to the subtleties of terrorism than proclamations of military experts or political academics can be found in the fiction of Don DeLillo. Besides reminding us that terrorism isn’t particularly new — or particular to Muslims, for that matter — the settings in which his novels are based give a sense of the zeitgeist in which he was working. This is the context in which he still works and in which we all live.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Lecture

" Dostoevsky thought that humanity knows much, much more about itself than it has recorded in literature. So what is it that I do? I collect the everyday life of feelings, thoughts, and words. I collect the life of my time. I'm interested in the history of the soul. The everyday life of the soul, the things that the big picture of history usually omits, or disdains. I work with missing history.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Recommended Reading: Why does Indian writing in English still have to defend itself against charges of siding with oppressors?

Why does Indian writing in English still have to defend itself against charges of siding ...


"There has to be a way for English writing to live along with writing in other Indian languages. This will require greater humility on the part of those of us who write in English, and on the part of the complex of publishers and retailers who support the process."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gabriel Josipovici Quotes

**When all public responses are not just negative but dismissive it’s sometimes hard to keep going. We are not Buddhists, we need some sense that what we are doing is more than self-indulgence. But of course in the end we go on writing because we have to/want to. (David Plante once said to me: ‘Remember, Gabriel, no-one asked you to do this.’ More wise words.) I have now accepted that I will always only appeal to a very small section of readers, anyway in this country, but probably everywhere, but I have also come to feel in the last few years (not in the eighties and nineties) that there is a growing body of people for whom my writing really matters, and that is heart-warming and encourages me to keep going.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kevin Barry on research in fiction writing

Sometimes the best research happens when you don’t even know you’re doing it, when you’re just going through your day-to-day life. But it can take a long, long time for it to filter into the fiction.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Karl Ove Knausagaard reviews Michel Houellebecq’s ‘Submission’

The disillusioned gaze sees through everything, sees all the lies and the pretenses we concoct to give life meaning, the only thing it doesn’t see is its own origin, its own driving force. But what does that matter as long as it creates great literature, quivering with ambivalence, full of longing for meaning, which, if none is found, it creates itself?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kevin Barry wins the Goldsmiths prize 2015 for Beatlebone

'Beatlebone is a novel that takes its reader to the edge – of the Western world, of sanity,of fame, of words. But it also takes us to the very edge of the novel form, where it meets its notorious doppelgänger, autobiography.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Philip Pullman on J.R.R. Tolkien,

Tolkien’s work has very little of interest in it to a reader of literature, in my opinion. When I think of literature—Dickens, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad—the great novelists found their subject matter in human nature, emotion, in the ways we relate to each other. If that’s what Tolkien’s up to, he’s left out half of it. The books are wholly male-oriented. The entire question of sexual relationships is omitted.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Recommended reading: Bartleby The Scrivener/ Herman Melville (digitized version):

 Herman Melville’s story “Bartleby The Scrivener.”digitized and annotated by Slate.

They call it “a searing critique of American capitalism, a protest story, an existentialist paean to the necessity of going on in an absurd world.”

Bartleby is the character who coined the phrase, “I would prefer not to.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Egyptian Novelist Ahmed Nagy faces criminal charge for his novel excerpt

Set in Cairo, the novel tells the story of Bassam, a man lost

 inside a "spiderweb of emotional frustration and failure."

 Oscillating between the present, the past and the future, it

 explicitly describes sexual acts.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mohsin Hamid on cyborg era

TIme is our most precious currency. So significant that we are being encouraged, wherever possible, to think of our attention not as expenditure but as consumption. This blurring of labor and entertainment forms the basis, for example, of the financial alchemy that conjures deca-billion-dollar valuations for social-networking companies.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Subimal Misra's anti-stories in English translation

Good news for Subimal Misra fans and enthusiasts: the second volume of Subimal Misra's anti-stories translated by V. Ramaswamy is out at last. 

Misra is Bengal's anti-establishment and underground writer with a cult status.


The second volume titled Wild Animals Prohibited was released yesterday at Max Mueller Bhaban, Kolkata to an auditorium-packed audience amid great enthusiasm and cheers.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fiction in Pakistan: Is Pakistani Cannon still evolving?

"Poetics, in terms of modern Pakistani fiction, still seeks maturity and authenticity; the modern Pakistani Author is caught between the memory of its colonial past and a subliminal aspiration towards the colonist’s ideals.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dubravka Ugrešić wins Neustadt International Prize for Literature 2016

“Dubravka’s win is a double win for me because she is a non-[native] English speaker and a woman.

Friday, October 23, 2015

George Saunders on Writing Teachers

Why do we love our writing teachers so much? Why, years later, do we think of them with such gratitude?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Three Svetlana Alexievich quotes

1. Information rules the world and means nothing. I just don’t believe that ‘new facts’ can help us understand anything.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lydia Davis on the rise of best writers

I have always had faith that the best writers will rise to the top, like cream, sooner or later, and will become exactly as well known as they should be—their work talked about, quoted, taught, performed, filmed, set to music, anthologized. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Joshua Cohen on PCKWCK, his real-time novel

For me, this is an exercise in increasing ego by destroying ego. And satisfying my vanity by shattering it

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Frank Witgel gets German Book Prize for his "The Invention of the Red Army Faction by a Manic-Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969."

Ever seen such a long title for a book?  I like it though because the title tells exactly what you can expect to get out of the book.

The Invention of the Red Army Faction by a Manic-Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969 weighs one kilo and has 99 chapters that mix all kind of genres.

Yes, this is the German-book of the year. Witgel took fifteen years to write this book.

The German Book Prize honors a brilliant linguistic work of art that is a vast quarry of words and ideas - a hybrid compendium of pop, politics and paranoia

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Man Booker Prize 2015 goes to Marlon James

SO it's Marlon James finally: a Jamaican who lives now in Minneapolis (Can you call him American?).

I don't say I'm unhappy. But the Booker Prize gets a new focus with this selection. Whatever the hype, A Brief History of Seven Killings is not exactly what we call literary fiction. As I've read it, it's not even a remarkable novel - either in terms of language or treatment with the theme which though is an ambitious one.

Michael wood, Chair of the judges, comments:

It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’

What's your takeaway?

*Crime novels are okay.

*Terrific pace is an important quality for Booker Prize.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Live Novel writing

Since last night I have been watching Joshua Cohen, the novelist, write a serial novel in real time.

 I like Cohen - you can call me a fan - for his candid and insightful writing. 

The left sidebar is kind of stat counter: how many readers watching, a clock ticking, and a call to participate in a survey( damn it).

The right sidebar is for a live chat presumably by the readers but as you note, most of those out there are trolls out to spoil the writing.

But the writing goes on ....words, then one full sentence, then another sentence, and finally a paragraph, short and eminently readable.

I can't imagine a writer can write under such circumstances ---- in full view of the internet with people distracting him every possible way.

Cohen can because he is different and  knows the nitty-gritty of fiction.

Not that he is writing great stuff or has a well thought-out premise, but it's okay given the circumstances.

For me, it's a unique experience, and I love it. 

"I don't have all that many years"/ Jonathan Franzen

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Question that worries Svetlana Alexievich

Both on scene or when I am writing I wish to have a feeling of talking to nearest friends. I wish to tell them what I realised in this life. I never accept the role of a judge, I am not a cool chronicler. My heart is always there. The question that worries me is how long we can walk this road of horror, how much a human being can bear. That's why the poetics of tragedy are important for me. It is important when somebody says that he or she has read such horrible books and feels better, that a reader got tears and these were purifying tears. You should have all this things in mind and not just overwhelm people with horror.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Recommended reading:Interview George Saunders and Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus
When I read Deborah Eisenberg, then Rachel B. Glaser, then Yiyun Li, then Lydia Davis, these writers seem apprenticed on entirely separate planets, with unique machinery, operating according to deeply individual private missions. And, honestly, that’s what I love about short stories, how artistically pliant they are, and how much room there still seems to be to make something distinct and – can we still say this word? – original.
George Saunders
I’ve been thinking lately that the literary world seems, to my taste, to be trending toward a model of art that is too far skewed toward the analytic and the reductive, and I loved the way that your intro refused to give into that – was articulate and precise about the need to respect mystery. And also because, as the semester looms, I find myself again wondering what the relation is between all of the discussing and pontificating I’m about to start doing in class, and the wonderful summer I’ve just had, which was all just me working, in the most intuitive and silent way possible.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2015 goes to Svetlana Alexievich

Congratulations, Svetlana!

Svetlana Alexievich is the first non-fiction author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

She is basically an investigative journalist, but invents a new genre where journalism elevates to literature without any active effort from the writer. She practically does not write anything off her head. She simply gets her real-life characters  - mostly victims of man-made catastrophes -to share their horrifying experiences in their authentic voices. Her role as a writer is to transcribe them accurately without altering anything in the text.

Read her Voices from Chernobyl.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Nobel Prize in Literature 2015: Tomorrow is the day

Stevlana Alexivich is down to 3/1 at Ladbrokes.  But I doubt she's going to win it. But if she wins, she would be the first non-fiction writer to ever win it. 

Jon Fosse is stuck at 10/1. I don't see him winning.

Ngugi at 6/1. This is the last year for Ngugi. 

Murakami, though at 6/1, has no chance.

Two big moves by Don DeLillo (from 50 to 20) and Nuruddin Farah( from 50 to 20).

I see a new name - both at Ladbrokes and Nicerodds --Maryse Conde. I don't know about her. Who is she?

I'm hoping for a news leak to happen at the last moment. Like last year when Patrick Modiano's name figured in the list all of a sudden.

Will it also be a surprise winner this year?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nobel Prize in literature 2015 to be announced on Oct 8

The Swedish Academy will announce this year’s Nobel Laureate in literature at 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 8 in the Grand Hall in the Exchange.

With just three days away, is there any buzz/excitement around the Nobel Prize? Where is that speculation stuff and the fun that accompanies it?  Interest in the Nobel Prize seems to have dwindled in this digital age where literature is categorized as entertainment which it is really not.

You see the same contenders this year also: Stevlana Alexivitj, Haruki Murakami, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Philip Roth, Adunis...

For the first time in many years, I'm not rooting for anybody.

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o  seems to be the most deserving candidate this year. Black Africa has not had a Nobel Laureate since Wole Soyinka who received it about thirty years ago.

 Ladbrokes has just moved him from 7 to 6.








Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ben Lerner gets the MacArthur "genius" grant this year

Ben Lerner, writer transcending conventional distinctions of genre and style in works that convey the texture of our contemporary moment and explore the relevance of art and the artist in modern culture.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

When texts become authorless

"if the work of my contemporaries and myself lasts a few millennia, our texts may become authorless too. Which would be no bad thing. I do like the idea of books being famous and authors remaining anonymous."

--Salman Rushdie

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Recommended reading: Two short pieces by Jonathan Franzen and Anthony Doerr

Like short pieces? Here are two short essays by Jonathan Franzen and Anthony Doerr, different takes on life, though written for the same occasion.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Animal that is the Novel

Right at the moment I’m avoiding the beginning of a novel. It’s like hunting—even though I’ve never been a hunter. You shouldn’t get too close too quickly to the animal that is the novel. It shouldn’t get wind of your intentions, much less your scent. I simply aim to track it, to see where it will lead me. Unlike serious writers, I never have a clear idea of what my main character will do, where he’ll go and how everything will end. How could I know? I simply follow the tracks, trying not to lose them and quickly writing down my prey.

--Georgi Gospodinov

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Aatish Taseer's hubris

"Let me make this simple for you: go away and read my book. Then sit down and put in words your own admiration of it. After that I will gladly take seriously your invitation.”

Monday, September 7, 2015

Michel Houellebecq on Islam

I don’t know if I’ve really changed my mind. It’s true that reading the Qur’an is rather reassuring. So I said [when Submission came out in France] that I was reassured after having read the Qur’an. That said, maybe I hadn’t thought it through enough before saying that, because objectively, there’s just as little chance of Muslims reading the Qur’an as Christians reading the Bible. So what really counts in both cases is who is the clergy, or middleman, or interpreter. And in the case of Islam, that’s very open.


via

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is Jonathan Franzen's narrative recreated from a spreadsheet?

Probably no one alive is a better novelist than Jonathan Franzen, and this is frustrating because his novels are awful, excellent but awful, books you read quickly and remember ponderously, books of exhaustive craft and yet a weird, spiraling cluelessness about the data they exhaustively collate. They analyze the wave frequency but don’t hear the sound. They are full of people who talk and act exactly as you imagine such people would talk and act in real life; everyone in them is forever buying the right brand of granola bar or having believable thoughts about their mother or fantasizing in a particularly characteristic way about fucking on a hotel-room air conditioner. And yet they don’t feel like real life. They feel like real life irritably recreated from a spreadsheet, by someone who is a genius at reading spreadsheets.  Whether a novel ought to feel like real life is of course a separate question. Many novels that I love don’t, but those novels aren’t trying to, and as far as I can tell, Franzen’s are.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A writer's fear

I’m always afraid, as a writer, that the reader is going to quit reading at any paragraph, so I feel like if the language isn’t there, if the dialogue isn’t right, if there isn’t development—if I’m not giving the reader a constant stream of candy, in one form or another, they’re just going to abandon me. That’s my great fear.

--Adam Johnson

via

Friday, August 28, 2015

Elena Ferrante on "Personal Is Political"

I owe much to that famous slogan. From it I learned that even the most intimate individual concerns, those that are most extraneous to the public sphere, are influenced by politics; that is to say, by that complicated, pervasive, irreducible thing that is power and its uses. It’s only a few words, but with their fortunate ability to synthesize they should never be forgotten. They convey what we are made of, the risk of subservience we are exposed to, the kind of deliberately disobedient gaze we must turn on the world and on ourselves. But “the personal is political” is also an important suggestion for literature. It should be an essential concept for anyone who wants to write.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"I don’t write every day, but I think every day."

I don’t write every day, but I think every day. Of course not in a preplanned way . . . you could say that every day I’m careful not to let whatever could nourish my voice slip away. I really try to recognize whatever is mine, dispossessed, wandering out in the world, so that I can reclaim it.
- Lorenza Ronzano

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Erotic novel author named CEO of Harper Collins India

Ananth Padmanabhan has "some 20 years of experience in publishing, is an avid photographer, and a bestselling author. His first book, the erotic novel Play With Me, debuted in 2014 and quickly shot up the bestseller lists".

Monday, August 24, 2015

From Joshua Kohen's review of Mario Vargas Llosa’s ‘Notes on the Death of Culture’

About a week before “Notes on the Death of Culture” was published, Vargas Llosa left his wife of 50 years for Isabel Preysler, a Filipino-born Spanish socialite, model and former beauty queen known as the Pearl of Manila, and as the ex-wife of Julio Iglesias. Hola! magazine carried the “exclusive” story, rife with intimate photographs and quotations (the relationship “is going very well,” according to the novelist). My favorite headline read: “Enrique Iglesias’ Mom Just Broke Up the Marriage of Nobel Winner Mario Vargas Llosa, 79.” Since the scandal broke, his numbers have been up, in English and in Spanish, on the only Amazon that people seem to care about. Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Concept of Badly Written Good Story, Courtesy Etgar Keret

In America, where writers are preoccupied with the craft of writing, I always try to introduce this concept of the badly written good story. Turning the hierarchy around and putting passion on top and not craft, because when you just focus on craft, you can write something that is very sterile. It looks beautiful, but soulless. So I warn them that, often in writing programs, articulation and clarity are more important than what you actually say. Sometimes you have, like, New Yorkerstories—there’s a couple, they’re on a cruise, he’s becoming senile, he doesn’t want to acknowledge it, when the woman mentions it to him, he becomes really angry, but in the end he admits it and they sit on the deck, she closes her eyes. And you say, “It’s so well-written, but who gives a fuck?” For certain, the guy who wrote it doesn’t give a fuck. It’s not something that has to do with his life; it’s just something well-written and illuminating, and writing is not about that. The best stories you usually hear are stories that people feel some type of urgency about.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Zia Haider wins James Tait Black Prize for his debut novel

Photo of Zia Haider Rahman




Congrats, Zia Haider.


I'm so glad Zia Haider wins the James Tait 


Black Prize for his novel "In the Light of 

What I Know."



It was such an immersive reading 


experience that  I wrote about it







It's really a classy novel dealing with a whole 

range of issues, old and new, and

locating the 

personal in the political








Monday, August 17, 2015

Mia Couto:A Writer in Oral Society

“I’m a white guy and an African; the son of Europeans and Mozambicans; a scientist living in a very religious world; a writer in an oral society. These are apparently contradictory worlds that I like to unite because they’re part of me. When I think of a character, it’s a black person; 99% of Mozambicans are black … I want to tell stories in the borderlines, and which cross frontiers.”

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Arundhati Roy on being called a writer-activist

To call someone like me a writer-activist suggests that it’s not the job of a writer to write about the society in which they live. But it used to be our job. It’s a peculiar thing, until writers were embraced by the market, that’s what writers did—they wrote against the grain, they patrolled the borders, they framed the debates about how society should think. They were dangerous people. Now we’re told we must attend festivals and get on to bestseller lists and, if possible, try to be good-looking.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Amitav Kumar on Philip Roth

"I like Roth for his monumental dumbness. His lack of understanding of the mystery that is his life—this also explains why he sometimes seems to be writing the same book again and again—is interesting because it is paired with a particularly male, even arrogant, set of certainties. The struggle for understanding is examined with great frankness. Roth generates enormous energy in American Pastoral by putting beside the voluble, expressive sharing of rage, and sorrow, and befuddled despair, an impressive array of precise observations."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Being a writer isn't a trade....

I am becoming increasingly convinced that being a writer isn’t a trade. It is an activity of sorts – one that is largely forced on you, that is connected with the specificities of your body and mind. Someone – I think it was T.S. Eliot – said that literary works are written not to create emotional feelings, but to get rid of them as quickly as possible. And, hell, what kind of a trade is getting rid of emotional feelings?
--Vladimir Sorokin

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recommended reading: Akhil Sharma-Aleksander Hemon conversation

Akhil Sharma and Aleksandar Hemon Discuss Poverty, Happiness, and Publishing




It was published in June 15 Fiction issue of Vice, but I missed it. An intimate exchange of ideas between two authors who seem to have many things in common. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Google doodle for Latifa al-Zayyat

latifa-al-zayyats-92nd-birthday-5714241222868992-hp2x
 Layla in "Open Door" by Egyptian novelist and activist al-Zayyat who died in 1996

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Literature in the age of globalisation

 The existence of an international literary community forces authors to think about whether they are writing primarily for a national or an international audienceEven if they are not consciously aware of this process, it is nevertheless at work. In Pamuk's case, I have spoken to people close to him who say that in the early days there was much discussion of how he might win a major international prize. This is hardly a crime. But it definitely conditions the way a writer works.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Knausagaard-mania continues

The sixth volume of My Struggle is already out in original, though in translation four volumes have been published so far. But Knausagaard-mania that started in 2009  still continues unabated.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Nell Zink on literary fiction

 Literary fiction is not a lucrative genre, and artistically valuable fiction is a small subset of literary fiction and it’s just a loss leder. You know? For most of its practitioners, they work hard so they can do this in their spare time, and the benefits they get are purely social, most of the time. They don’t even get a fellowship. Maybe some of them have jobs teaching. Mostly what they get is the regard of their peers.

via

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Man Booker Prize longlist 2015 announced

Man Booker Prize longlist has been announced today: thirteen titles  by thirteen authors from across the globe, the Prize now being open to any nationality. But the list seems heavily dominated by US which has five representations among the thirteen. 

The list is also skewed in favour of female authors - seven out of thirteen.

Then there are some big omissions: Pat Barker, Salman Rushdie Jonathon Franzen and Kazuo Ishiguro. 

The list comprises just three Britons. Which must shock the long-time observers of the Booker Prize. 

Of course, there is a paradigm shift in compilation of the list. Americans are all set to take over, and change the game. My guess is that the Man Booker Prize is going to an American novelist this year.

The good old Booker Prize, with all its glory, seems to be over.

Of the eleven books, I've  read only one title: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon Jones (Jamaica). 

Marlon Jones represents Jamaica, but actually lives in NewYork.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

E L Doctorow passes away at 84


"Writing teachers invariably tell students, Write about what you know. That’s, of course, what you have to do, but on the other hand, how do you know what you know until you’ve written it? Writing is knowing. What did Kafka know? The insurance business? So that kind of advice is foolish, because it presumes that you have to go out to a war to be able to do war. Well, some do and some don’t. I’ve had very little experience in my life. In fact, I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What weight means to Ta-Nehisi Coates

Weight was when I first came to New York, and I didn’t have a job. My wife was the breadwinner in our household, which is fine. But I couldn’t even contribute. Weight is having a one-year-old kid and having no idea how you are going to contribute to the household. Weight is writing for years, where you are paid ten cents a word and you write three articles that year that you worked your ass off to do, and that’s all the income you bring in. Weight is all those years when you bring in 1,000 or 2,000 dollars a year. That’s weight. I never thought I would get here. I had no expectation of this. This is icing. [Laughs] It’s not even the cake; it’s icing. And you can’t write for that.


via

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Would people enjoy Harper Lee's new novel " Go Set A Watchman"?

Go Set A Watchman, the hotly anticipated novel by Harper Lee, is on sale now. According to BBC, the initial print run in USA is 2 millions and it would be released in 70 countries simultaneously. Of course a big moment in publishing.

But I'm not excited. In fact, reading the reviews and the first chapter of Watchman, I get less enthused to read the book.  Who would want to see Atticus, such a fine and rational being in Mockingbird to change suddenly into a bigot in Watchman?

These are worst times for the black in USA as they experience more and more violence and hatred from the white. I'm afraid in the new charged atmosphere the book's content could be a thing for glee for bigots, unintentionally though. May be it was the reason why the novel which was actually written before the Mockingbird was rejected by Lee's editor fifty five years ago.

Times have only changed for the worse now.

The publishing of the book may have a historic value, but I think it's not going to be welcome by many. Worse still, you can't re-read Mockingbird with same love and enthusiasm now.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Language is an irrelevance!

For a long time now, especially since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I’ve despised literature for its impotence to change the world for the better, its inability to dissuade or enlighten the people who do harm. Sometimes I think that language as a whole is an irrelevance, that all the true motivations are non-verbal. (I was writing about this as far back as 1996, in a story called The Tunnel of Love). But language is all we have. And although The Book of Strange New Things expresses that despondency and frustration about communication, it’s a kind of love song to intimacy and good intentions as well. And good humour. At one point, Peter laments to Bea that he would need to have the skills of a novelist to describe to her what he’s seeing and experiencing. The reader can relish that, because you’re experiencing everything in technicolour and sensurround via my prose, while Bea has to make do with Peter’s absurdly crappy letters. The gulf is terrifying but also funny.
       ---Michel Faber 

Friday, July 10, 2015

If you want to write, read more: Namwali Serpell

I think if you want to write short stories, the best thing to do is to read more. I say this to all my students, to anybody who wants to write: If you want to write, read more. And there’s so many amazing short stories that you can read; you can listen to short stories on the tube, or on the train, or on the bus. And I think if you read stories by Amos Tutuola or Franz Kafka or Gogol or Alice Munro you get this kind of remarkable range of the possibilities of what you can do with the short story, so that when you sit down to write your own you have a real sense of freedom, I think. You think, “All of these amazing things have been done. Borges did this, Calvino did that, I can do something really interesting and experimental as well.

via

Related

Read the Caine Prize winning story, "The Sack".

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Read the Caine Prize winning story "The Sack"

The Sack by Namwali Serpell

It's an exquisite piece of art. You may have to read it a second time if you can't appreciate it at first attempt.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Story behind the Story

We’re living in the reality show version of reality, is why—and we’ve been living in it for a while now. The story behind the story has become the only tale to tell. It’s about transparency, and disabuse: the democratization of the hero, or the hero’s devaluation into celebrity, this seemingly American sense that there’s a system in place, an equal opportunity system by which anyone can claim the world’s attention. Art is now concerned with figuring that out—with laying bare or appearing to lay bare the processes by which the people we read about or watch or listen to become “themselves,” so that we can have what they have too—everyone gets a turn, in this strange collaboration between insatiability and fairness.
- Joshua Cohen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nabokov in America

Excerpt from "Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lalita" by Robert Roper via

To be in America that summer was most excellent luck. The Nabokovs had been through the historical wringer; they were Zelig-like figures of 20th-century catastrophe, dispossessed of their native Russia by the Bolsheviks, hair’s-breadth escapees of the Nazis, “little” people with murderous evil breathing down their necks. Had they been in Russia, they might have been starving to death or dying of cholera during the Siege of Leningrad, the most calamitous siege in world history; had they remained in France, Véra Nabokov, who was Jewish, and her young son, Dmitri, would likely have been on their way to Drancy, the French internment camp that directly fed Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sponsored fiction

Before novelist Haruki Murakami became an international literary giant, he was a brand writer for apparel company Onward Kashuyama. But he wasn’t just cranking out traditional ad copy—he was writing branded fiction.

Read on ..





Monday, June 8, 2015

Ursula K. Le Guin on Amazon model of publishing

As a book dealer and publisher, Amazon wants no competitors, admits no responsibilities, and takes no risks.
Its ideal book is a safe commodity, a commercial product written to the specifications of the current market, that will hit the BS list, get to the top, and vanish. Sell it fast, sell it cheap, dump it, sell the next thing.  No book has value in itself, only as it makes profit. Quick obsolescence, disposability — the creation of trash — is an essential element of the BS machine. Amazon exploits the cycle of instant satisfaction/endless dissatisfaction.Every book purchase made from Amazon is a vote for a culture without content and without contentment.
 

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