Wednesday, August 29, 2012

E.L James in Nobel list!

Ladbrokes has put E.L James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, on its list of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012, though with heavy odds (1/500)

Hilarious!

Or is it a calculated move to dumb down the Nobel Prize?


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Howard Jacobson on literary festivals

Literary festivals go on being zestfully attended. New events in London such as Book Slam, the Literary Salon at Shoreditch and 5 x 15 are attracting rhapsodic younger crowds to what are virtually literary nightclubs.  Great fun they are to read at, too. And, in the meantime, just about every living English novelist you have ever heard of has a new book out. Is this what decline looks like?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Boualem Sansal interview

"To look for your history and your identity is also to look for others’ history and identity. You live in a country, an epoch, with people. You cannot know yourself away from this environment. When you get ahead in your research, you discover that your individual history is nothing, only a rustle in general history.  The feeling of belonging to a people, of having an identity, is born from it."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How should a novelist approach his/her novel?

With ingenuity. With humility. With a hammer. With energy. With erudition. With naivety. Traditionally, anarchically, adventurously, brokenly, wholly, any adverb you want, but always only with an eye to what the story asks, because that's more than enough. The story will dictate its style. (And you won't need adverbs anyway. Lose them in the edit.)
          -Ali Smith in The Edinburgh writers' conference,

Monday, August 20, 2012

V.S. Naipaul turns 80

“To be a serious writer is not to do what you have done before… I shouldn’t just stay at home and pretend to be writing novels. I should move and travel and explore my world — and let the form take its own natural course.” 

Friday, August 17, 2012

J.R.R Tolkien today

"Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time. The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me. Such commercialisation has reduced the esthetic and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: turning my head away."
- Christopher Tolkien, writer's son

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reading: ALEEK MANUSH by Syed Mustafa Siraj (Bengali novel)

I have heard of this novel long since, but only recently had the chance to read it through. Gripping from the very first line, original and serious, it is a great read. I have enjoyed every page of the novel.

Based in Murshidabad, a backward and Muslim-dominated district of the then undivided Bengal – it offers  a vivid and real portrait of the Muslim cummunity of the time, divided by different religious cults and their leaders, and their multitude of suckers against the backdrop of independence struggle that was then brewing across Bengal. But I read into it a heart-wrenching love story between two pristine souls who by a streak of fate were never united.

Safi, the protagonist, was a rebel, and though born of an orthodox family – his father was a “pir”( a saint) -  left the family in school-going age, lived in different places, came in contact with different  learned men, and studied different religious texts,  literature and western philosophy to finally morph into an atheist.  He was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau and strongly believed that the state is a torture machine, the officers in the administration are complicit, and the police and the military are the state-owned hooligans.

Safi got to be a mythical hero in his own right. In course of his life, Safi murdered some notorious men and lived like a sage, attracting a huge following from both Hindu and Muslim communities. Finally, when he was going to kill his hypocrite father, someone called in the police and got him booked. He was subsequently tried and hanged. Massive crowds attended his cremation.

I’m not sure why the author calls him an “ALEEK”(unreal) man. He’s very much a flesh and blood creature, and even adorable despite his anarchist strait. His tumultuous life, so palpable without his dream womanRuku,  resonates long after I was done with the book.

 Translators, please take note: it’s a great literary novel that deserves your attention.

If you like ALEEK MANUSH, you may also like SHADOWLAND.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chinua Achebe interview

Artists from the developing world do no one a favor by blindly copying Western styles and forms. And let me be clear, because I am often misunderstood: I am not decreeing how a writer should write. I am not suggesting that artists should not or cannot be influenced by other artists from different parts of the world. That is welcome. I am suggesting that an artist should be true to who and what they are and should aspire to produce the best art that they can …that is when the magic in art is released. What I am calling for is an environment where freedom of creative expression is not only possible but protected… where an artist from any part of the worldcanacquire and develop their unique voice and then express themselves on the Great Cultural Stagein full ear shot of the world!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Will Self interview

"I don't really write for readers.I think that's the defining characteristic of being serious as a writer. I mean, I've said in the past I write for myself. That's probably some kind of insane egotism but I actually think that's the only way to proceed – to write what you think you have to write. I write desperately trying to keep myself amused or engaged in what I'm doing and in the world. And if people like it, great, and if they don't like it, well, that's that – what can you do? You can't go round and hold a gun to their head."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Author Gore Vidal passes away

Gore Vidal - the great novelist, iconoclast, polemicist -  died on Tuesday at the age of 86 from pneumonia- related complications at his home in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.

I was saying to somebody not long ago — and this can easily be misunderstood — "You know, I used to be a famous novelist and I'm not anymore." And they said, "Well, what do you mean? People who know about those things know who you are. And your novels are no worse than they ever were." And I said, "What I mean is, the category no longer exists. Famous novelist is a contradiction in terms."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Anna Starobinets interview

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