Kitaab

Asia+n writing in English


Leave a comment

Nobel Prize winner for Literature Mo Yan to talk at San Marcos

Mo_YanThe Chinese author, Mo Yan, will be speaking at a conference on May 23 at San Marcos in Lima.

“The Republic of Wine” author Mo Yan, will be paying a visit to San Marcos University of Lima, Peru this Saturday May 23.

Winner of the Nobel Prize of Literature, the acclaimed Chinese writer will be participating in a conference of literature entitled, “Meeting of San Marcos with the writers of the Popular Republic of China.” The event will be held in the Auditorium José Antonio Russo Delgado of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Singapore: Desmond Kon’s Historic Poetry Win at 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Awards

Desmond Kon

Desmond Kon

It’s unprecedented. The first Singapore writer to bag this gold, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé is also the first-ever author to place in a winning tie for Poetry at the National Indie Excellence Book Awards (NIEA). That there has never been a tie for the Poetry category in NIEA’s ten years of running makes for an interesting turn, but more compelling is how the tie names as its the citation two of Desmond’s poetry collections: I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist (Math Paper Press) and Sanctus Sanctus Dirgha Sanctus (Red Wheelbarrow Books).

Based in Los Angeles, The National Indie Excellence Awards has been a strong advocate for independent publishing, a large sector of the publishing world, with most literary presses falling under its umbrella. The prestigious NIEA is open to all English language books in print. Entries come from small, medium, university, self and independent publishers. The judging panel comprises independent experts from all aspects of the indie book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book designers and professional copywriters. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Kitaab to organise its first ever book-inspired conference series on startups in Asia

Startup Capitals Singapore conference & book launch to be held on May 20

startup capitals EDMStartup Capitals, a thought-leadership conference based on the recently published book authored by Singapore-based author and journalist, Zafar Anjum, will be held on May 20. The one-day conference which will also witness the official release of the book, celebrates the innovation/startup ecosystem of cities that are making a mark on the world map. It brings together all the stakeholders in a startup ecosystem, including entrepreneurs, business leaders, innovators, researchers and educational specialists, government leaders and venture capitalists, under one roof who champion innovation and who are passionate about taking their innovation ecosystem to the next level.

The one-day conference in Singapore on May 20 at The POD, NLB, 100 Victoria Street will have Mr Steve Leonard, Executive Dy Chairman, IDA, deliver a key note speech on “Building the World’s First Smart Nation.” Mr Zachary Caceres, award winning writer, entrepreneur and Director of Startup Cities Institute based in Guatemala City will deliver key note speech on “Startup Cities, Micro reforms and treating governance services as a technology for start-ups to innovate.”

This uniquely curated programme offers a chance to hear and interact with the thought-leaders and entrepreneurs who are leading the change in the world and who are committed to making the world a better place. One of the sessions, Innovation Express will showcase some of the most innovative and successful ideas and start-ups from Singapore.

For a detailed agenda please log in to www.startupcapitals.com. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Faiz Ahmed Faiz—The defiance of an exile

FaizFaiFor some reason, whenever I think of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, I think of poets like Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz, which is not fair because Faiz was neither a South American poet nor were Neruda or Paz poets of exile like Faiz. God knows what led me to forge this image of Faiz in my mind because in 1984, when he passed away, I was still a child, and I might have seen the pictures of this celebrated poet in Urdu literary journals that were still alive and kicking in India at that time.

When I think hard about that image now, it dawns on me that I might have gathered this impression of Faiz because I remembered him as a cultural ambassador from the Indian sub-continent – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had appointed Faiz to the National Council of the Arts after his incarceration had ended. Later on, he had also won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963 for his poems that had been translated into Russian. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Indie publishers making a difference in India

Zafar

By definition, independent/indie publishers are independent of the major conglomerates that dominate the book publishing industry; as Asad Zaidi of Three Essays Collective puts it, “Historically, all publishing was by default independent publishing. Big bad capital developed an interest in it only in 19th century, after the considerable expansion of readership and emergence of a large public sphere.” Continue reading


Leave a comment

Kitaab interview with Isa Kamari: Writing is like therapy to me

by Zafar Anjum

Isa Kamari

I had heard of Isa Kamari ever since I set foot in Singapore over a decade ago. Winner of many awards, Isa Kamari is a major Singapore Malay author. He has been a regularly featured author at the Singapore Writers Festival. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to read Malay and I did not know that Isa’s novels had been translated into English.

It was only recently that I got to know him in person. A few months ago, he sent me a copy of his novel, Intercession. I found it a bold work of fiction dealing with serious themes of science and religion, and yet it was so thrillingly narrated that I could barely stop reading it.  The book reminded me of Hermann Hesse’s masterpiece, Siddhartha.

Born in 1960 in Kampung Tawakal, Isa’s family moved to a Housing Development Board apartment in Ang Mo Kio while he was still in his teens. After studying at the elite Raffles Institution, he went on to take the degree of Bachelor of Architecture (with Honours) from the National University of Singapore in 1988. He now holds a senior position with the Land Transport Authority. Isa has also earned a Master of Philosophy degree in Malay Letters from the National University of Malaysia in 2007.

A prolific writer, Isa has so far published two volumes of short stories, eight novels, six volumes of poetry, one collection of stage plays, and several albums of contemporary spiritual music. He has been honoured with the SEA Write Award in 2006, the Singapore government’s Cultural Medallion in 2007 and the Singapore Malay literary award Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang in 2009.

Isa-quote2Isa’s novels are increasingly being translated from Malay for wider audiences. Satu Bumi (One Earth, 1998) was published in Mandarin in 1999 as Yi Pien Re Tu and in English in 2008, under the title of One Earth (translated by Sukmawati Sirat). Two other novels appeared in English translations in 2009: Intercession (Tawassul, 2002, translated by Sukmawati Sirat and edited by Alvin Pang); and Nadra (Atas Nama Cinta, In the Name of Love, 2006, translated by Sukmawati Sirat and edited by Aaron Lee Soon Yong). In 2013, four translations have been released: The Tower (Menara, 2002, translated by Alfian Sa’at); A Song of the Wind (Memeluk Gerhana, Embracing the Eclipse, 2007, “rendered in English from Malay” by Sukmawati Sirat and R. Krishnan); Rawa (Rawa: tragedi Pulau Batu Puteh, Rawa: The Tragedy of White Rock Island, 2009, “rendered in English from the original Malay” by Sukmawati Sirat and R. Krishnan); and 1819 (Duka Tuan Bertakhta, You Rule in Sorrow, 2011, “rendered in English from Malay by Sukmawati Sirat and R. Krishnan”).

Here is a two-part interview with Isa Kamari:

PART ONE: Becoming a Writer

IsaSmile

What set you on the road to being a writer? Do you ever regret the drive or passion that makes you keep writing?

I have always loved writing since my secondary school days but never took it seriously until my late teens. Something happened to me in 1979, the story of which I have told in my novel Memeluk Gerhana (A Song of the Wind).

That incident made me look at life in a more critical manner. It made me view writing not as a hobby but more of a calling. In any case, I begin to write only if an event or issue disturbs me deeply. I do research on the subject and try to find my own resolution/ take on the issue/predicament. Only when I understand and come to terms with the problem and form my own opinion or position do I begin to pen my thoughts on it in the form of a poem or fiction. Thus writing is like therapy to me. It is my way of finding meaning and peace with myself and the world. Continue reading


2 Comments

10 Rules of Writing: Amitava Kumar

Amitava_KumarWhen I was promoted to the rank of professor, the library at the university where I was then employed asked me to send them the name of a book that had been useful to me in my career. I chose VS Naipaul’s Finding the Center. The library then purchased a copy, which was duly displayed in one of its rooms, with a statement I had written about the book:

This was one of the first literary autobiographies that I read. Its very first sentence established in my mind the idea of writing as an opening in time or a beginning; it conveyed to me, with its movement and rhythm, a history of repeated striving, and of things coming together, at last, in the achievement of the printed word: “It is now nearly thirty years since, in a BBC room in London, on an old BBC typewriter, and on smooth, ‘non-rustle’ BBC script paper, I wrote the first sentence of my first publishable book.” Continue reading


Leave a comment

Review: ‘Necropolis’ by Avtar Singh straddles various literary worlds

By Elen Turner

Necropolis by Avtar Singh, New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2014. 268 pages.

necropolisAvtar Singh’s Necropolis is very different from a lot of English-language fiction currently emerging from India, a major strength of the novel. Part detective fiction, part literary, and incorporating much history and vampire imagery, Necropolis straddles various literary worlds.

Taking it as a mystery/crime thriller, it would be best not to give away too much of the plot in this review, as it is this that pulls the reader along. It opens with a murder—one in a string of murders—suspected to have been carried out by Delhi’s youth gangs. DCP Dayal and officers Kapoor and Smita Dhingra are on the case, and the novel follows their search for the killers. Further crimes occur, parallel or connected to the opening murder, including the killing of an African immigrant, the rape of a woman from the north-east of India and the kidnapping of a young boy from a wealthy family. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Privileged PC: Why Internet induced Political Correctness is Dumb

By Rheea Mukherjee

In 2012, I had a fabulous poet and social activist stay with us at home, with her two kids. She was African-Canadian and had a tremendous sense of style. Walking the streets of Bangalore, she would get the inevitable stares: some curious, some awed; and some expressions were inscrutable.  Her two very young children had big hair. One had dreads, and the other, a giant bush that adorned his round face.

Once, Shanti, my house help at the time, was cutting vegetables in the kitchen. One of the boys popped out of the bedroom and walked into the kitchen. She looked at him and shrieked. Yes, she quite literally screamed in terror, then stood, frozen until I went up to her and looked at her in astonished embarrassment.

“I got so scared, I have never seen anyone who looks like this.” Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Eric Tinsay Valles

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Eric ValesLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I write, because I think I will go crazy if I don’t. I am possessed by some spirit, what has been called the duende, that drives me to write in verse. It is a gift that I am grateful for and that I would like to cultivate.

Tell us about your most recent book. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

In my second book, After the Fall (dirges among ruins), I was trying to grapple with various motivations for war and violence and exploring how victims could pick up the pieces from the resulting brutality and destruction. I did so in dialogue with great souls such as St. Augustine who posited that adversity is not an end but a means to refine one’s practice of virtues. He saw the good as forging ahead and achieving some peace. Another major influence on the second book was Walter Benjamin who talked about giving witness to war’s horrors as a lifelong commitment. He described destruction through a witness’s perception of objects and nature scenes in the act of loss. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,802 other followers