Friday, May 29, 2015

Nabokov's Lolita Now

New Republic has an interesting article on Nabokov's LOLITA

Lolita occupies a curious cultural space in all of this. On the one hand, the endless cultural re-fashioning of Lolita over the past 60 years (from Stanley Kubrick to Lana Del Rey) has turned Lolita into the archetype of the alluring child, the very definition of a “precociously seductive girl.” On the other, the novel itself constitutes a vicious satire of a culture that fetishizes young girls—a culture that openly celebrates, in songs like “When You Were Sweet Sixteen,” “Sixteen Candles,” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” the exact instant that a girl crosses the threshold into legal fuckability—while simultaneously loathing pedophilia as an absolute moral evil on par with genocide. Crucial to Nabokov’s satire is the fact that Humbert gets precisely what he wants: Some of the most spine-tingling moments in Lolita come from the casual manner in which Humbert reminds us that he is sleeping with his step-daughter: 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Arab Novel

"Novels have traditionally been related to something urban, to the city, or to the telling of a person’s individual story. This is new to Arab literature. That’s because the development of cities and an individual, modern style of life is new to the Arab world.
"What made “The Italian” special is that I have lived two transitions in my life [Ben Ali coming to power in 1987, and then the 2011 revolution.] So this book goes through two eras in Tunisia.
My novel shows the Arab community what led to the Arab Spring and the Tunisian revolution, what created this momentum that led to the boiling point that have birth to it, and to “The Italian” after. That was my goal as a Tunisian writer."
--Shukri Mabkhout, Arab Booker Prize winner

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jonathon Coe on Milan Kundera's current novel

"I can’t help feeling that if anything will undermine Kundera’s long-term reputation, it will not be any absence of “felt life” in his novels, or the fact that his art was developed in a political context that may one day (sooner than we think) be forgotten: it will be his overwhelming androcentrism. I avoid the word “misogyny” because I don’t think that he hates women, or is consistently hostile to them, but he does seem to see the world from an exclusively male viewpoint, and this does limit what might otherwise have been his limitless achievements as a novelist and essayist. Fortunately, The Festival of Insignificance is less disfigured by this tendency than almost anything else he has written; and so, although it may not be a substantial addition to his oeuvre, it might still be a good point of re-entry for those who have been turned off, in the past, by the problematic sexual politics which send ripples of disquiet through even his finest books."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Laszlo Krasznahoraki wins the 2015 Man Booker International Prize

Laszlo Krasznahorkai  is a visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range who captures the texture of present day existence in scenes that are terrifying, strange, appallingly comic, and often shatteringly beautiful. The Melancholy of Resistance,Satantango and Seiobo There Below are magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence. Krasznahorkai, who writes in Hungarian, has been superbly served by his translators, George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet.

Related: Laszlo Krasznahoraki interview 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reading: A Brief History Of Seven Killings/ Marlon James

I  read about  the novel when the Rooster was going on. I’ve never read Marlon James before, but discussions on the book by Rooster’s judges and readers piqued my interest.

A Brief History Of seven Killings is literary fiction in the guise of a thriller without much of a plot and all of its characters busy doing something sinister, hideous and even ghastly. The setting is Jamaica mostly, but you get also a bit  of US as the  characters change their base.

The novel is full of violence, Jamaican style, from gangsters’ street -fighting to killing to rape to police atrocities.  The country is portrayed as one without even a semblance of law and order anywhere. There’s no sane person or voice anywhere in the novel. All you find is a morbid and dreary literary landscape.

Despite this, it is an interesting rather than harrowing read. One reason might be that the novel is driven by different voices – first person accounts of all of its characters, though the voices sound more or less alike and barely distinguishable.

The characters are an interesting mix:  gangster, drug lord, CIA man, diplomat, journalist, celebrity, call- girl, even someone who got killed.  As you get to read their account, Jamaica emerges with some of its angst, deprivation and nuance. And though it’s more filmy than literary,  I found it worth my time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Recommended Reading: On Not Being Besozed

In truth, by 2015, we were already living the future and nothing was left. While democracy was enfeebled, corporations' power had exploded, with, on the one hand the collapse of belief in the idea of politics and, on the other, an idea of living so narrowly economic, and a technology capable of a brutality and terror no one then could imagine in that time before the Apple collars. A cult of advanced gadgetry obscured for almost all the losses of what was called privacy but was more precisely not just the possibility of freedom, but its necessity.

-from Richard Flanagan's paper at  2015 PEN World Voices Festival

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Haruki Murakami on myths and his stories

“Myths are humans’ collective subconscious taking on a form. The stories I write represent my subconscious. But if I follow my own subconscious to the very bottom, it ends up overlapping with the collective subconscious. Myths and one’s own stories are not the same thing, but there are a lot of parts where the movements overlap.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why is Toni Morrison angry all the time?

 I'm angry all the time. Almost all the time, which is why I write books. That's where I control things, that's where I think freely about things, without regard to the fashion or whatever else is going on, or who's planning to kill whom and whether we should all have guns or nobody should have guns. All these things prey on you, and I got a little disturbed years ago with some business, political, cultural, I don't know what, but I was very depressed. It was awful, so right wing, the country. And I found myself not working, not writing, and my friend Peter Sellars [the opera director] calls me up usually every Christmas, and this time he called me and said, "Merry Christmas, how are you?" And I said, "I feel awful, I really can't write," and went on, complaining, and he started shouting, "No, no, no!" He said, "Toni, this is when artists go to work! Not when things are wonderful and calm. This is the time!" And I suddenly stopped whining, and I thought about writers in prison, in camps, in the gulag, a history of people who under the world's worst circumstances, write. This was about 20 years ago, but I now understand it better because it works for me. I can think through my novels, I can react, I can invent, I can create, I can be free. It's my space and I'm in control.

Search This Blog

My Blog List