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

 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.


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