Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nabarun Bhattacharya passes away at 66

It's difficult to describe Nabarun Bhattacharya as a writer. He was kind of loose cannon, but firmly anti-establishment and wrote his poetry and fiction out of his conviction. A hard-core Marxist, with an in-depth knowledge of leftist movements and literature, he brought in a fresh wind of change in Bengali literature. He was original, intense, thoughtful, even provocative but never staid, dull or without a sense of humour.

Initially, I had problem with his odd-ball characters: most are lawless creatures, almost lumpens, some subversive, even schizophrenic. They use slang freely.But they were his sticks to beat his demons with.  His demons were capitalism, consumerist culture or powers-that-be. He had profound knowledge of the Kolkata sub-culture, which I think, he was  obsessive about and fond of, in a way.

I spent the better part of this summer reading his complete collection of novels. I read Kangal Malsat for the first time. Who can forget the fyataroos, the people who can fly and stay suspended in the air for a while, and wreak havoc with the administrative structure? It was awesome as a novel. I laughed out quite a lot while reading the novel. In the guise of a fantasy, it depicted the contour of our establishment in a brilliant way.

I don't know of any other living writer, not only in Bengali literature, but in world literature as well, who is so forthright, profound and talented.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Choi Jae-hoon interview

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Neel Mukherjee on Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist

I've not yet read Neel Mukherjee who is on longlist this year.  His novel The Lives of Others is about a Naxalite and covers the late sixties of West Bengal. As a Bengali living in Kolkata, who has had a taste of the turbulent period, I find it amazing that Naxalism, which once attracted the youths of Bengal en masse, can be the subject of a novel in these times by a writer who lives in London. More amazing is the fact that the novel dealing with such a subject has captured the attention of Booker judges. Whether it would win is, of course,  a different matter. 

The 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Remembering Hemingway on his 115th birthday

Friday, July 18, 2014

How serious a writer is Karl Ove Knausgaard?

Oh, I could cut off my head with the bitterness and shame that I have allowed myself to be lured, not just once but time after time. If I have learned one thing over these years that seems to be immensely important, particularly in an era such as ours, overflowing with mediocrity, it is the following:

Don't believe you are anybody.
Don't fucking believe you are somebody.
Because you are not. You're just a smug, mediocre little shit.
Do not believe you are anything special. Do not believe that you're worth anything, because you aren't. You're just a little shit.
So keep your head down and work, you little shit. Then, at least, you'll get something out of it. Shut your mouth, keep your head down, work, and know that you're not worth a shit.
This, more or less, was what I had learned.
This was the sum of all my experience.
This was the only worthwhile thought I'd ever had.

Above is an excerpt from Karl Ove Knausgaard's MY STRUGGLE BOOK 2, which I've been reading over the past week: a novel, indeed, of high quality, apparently a simple and unpretentious narrative, with thoughts and insights, lived-out feelings and experiences, actions and analyses, touching the essence and truth of human life as it should be lived. I have not only loved the book. The reading experience is going to stay with me, and I feel it will have a long-term impact on my life as well as on my writing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Zia Haider Rahman interview

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nadine Gordimer, 1991 Nobel laureate, passes away at 90


“What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there's another force from inside battling to make us something else.”

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Translating literature in India

 Madhavankutty Pillai  has an interesting article News from Babel in the Open Magazine.

There are a very small number of translators in India. You can’t make a profession out of it yet. It doesn’t pay enough. Most writers can’t make a living out of writing, translators come even lower down the pecking order.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rebecca Makkai interview

I wrote a short story once called “Gate House,” which consisted of some of the plot of the 1999 story. And it didn’t work as a short story at all; it was terrible. But when I revisited it, years later, I suddenly thought of turning it into a novel, and that’s when I started to consider what I would have to do to move backwards in time. At that point the whole thing was coming to me as I went about my day, as I was brushing my teeth – I would have these ideas of the way the plot would be layered. Soon I realized it would be stupid to start writing without seriously outlining, so that was the next thing I did. I ended up with a sixty-page outline. I had calendars, I had timelines, I had historical events. And of course it changed a ton as I was actually writing it. I knew I wanted to write it in reverse chronological order, as it appears in the book, but I had to outline first. Because I couldn’t write 1955 until I knew what happened in 1929.

via The Millions

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