Asia+n writing in English

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Kitaab interview with Sarabjeet Garcha : ‘What we see in ample is usually refined mediocrity, which has had the benefit of resources’

Sarabjeet Garcha Revisiting the fascinating strands of rich culture, Sarabjeet Garcha interlaces his personal experiences into universal experiences of humanity.  Love is a recurrent theme in the anthology Lullaby of the Ever-Returing, a theme which is craftily manifested not only in finely- woven tapestry of poetry but also in prose which are at one level belong to the exclusive cultural experiences of the Sikh community  but at another to the entire humanity. Both in the pieces of prose and in poetry, what Sarabjeet encapsulates is the multifacetedness of love which is beautified and made colourful by the powerful human agent. Although love is a universal experience, it has been aesthetically situated in the Sikh culture adding a unique cultural dimension to it yet preserving the universal character of it.

A significant aspect of love at Sarabjeet’s hand is the portrayal of its social manifestation, by and large, defined by the moral codes of a given society.  Sarabjeet amply manifest and reinforces the universal adage that a writer or a poet cannot afford to be universal without being local or without being firmly rooted in one’s own culture. The contours of Sarabjeet’s discourse of love are defined by a diction enriched with powerful metaphors and imagery masterly employed in poems and in the pieces of prose in the anthology. In essence, it is a literary feast that one would partake with delight.

Garcha was interviewed by Sri Lankan journalist Ranga Chandrarathne.            

In a way, your poems encapsulate not only your personal life experiences but also the milieu you live in and the complex system of beliefs and culture in general. For instance, the poem Your Handwriting, though a personal experience, evokes the universal feeling of love and also epitomises the rich imagination on the part of the narrator. Your comments..?

Garcha: Anything most personal is necessarily universal, and all universal feelings can be traced back to certain fundamental emotions. They are the same everywhere and so is their perception, but their expressions vary. It’s the permutations of these expressions that give rise to novelty and freshness, the key elements that make poetry work. Nothing’s more universal and more universally understood or misunderstood — depending on how you look at it — than love. And it is so much more than just a feeling. The poem you refer to does not just point to the handwriting of the person it is dedicated to, but also to that of the much dreaded but equally celebrated Moving Finger of providence or destiny, for which the Hindi word praarabdha sounds better to me. Besides being interested in what this finger writes, I am fascinated by the looks of what it writes, by how life unfolds itself to us layer by layer, by the way these micro, or say nano, revelations affect and change us, and change us for good, irreversibly. Continue reading

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Kitaab Review: The Singapore Decalogue by Zafar Anjum

Singapore is a unique agglomeration of cultures, history and contemporary prosperity, and so for this lover of South Asian literature, Zafar Anjum’s The Singapore Decalogue is a welcome entry into Singaporean literature from an Indian migrant’s perspective, writes Elen Turner in her review 

Singapore-Decalogue_coverSingapore is a unique agglomeration of cultures, history and contemporary prosperity, and so for this lover of South Asian literature, Zafar Anjum’s The Singapore Decalogue is a welcome entry into Singaporean literature from an Indian migrant’s perspective.

The format of The Singapore Decalogue (subtitled Episodes in the Life of a Foreign Talent) is creative: it is a novel, of sorts, but it is also akin to a collection of interrelated short stories. Each chapter narrates events from one month in the life of Asif, who, at the beginning, October 2005, is a Bangalore bachelor about to immigrate to Singapore. The protagonist, Asif, is the focus throughout the book; his life progresses from one event to the next, his consciousness and worldview undergoing development, suggesting the label of novel. However, each chapter stands alone to some degree: characters who take central roles in one chapter are entirely put aside in the next, sometimes never seen again. Asif’s life progresses, but author Zafar Anjum suggests, through this structure, that life can be compartmentalised, for good or ill. Continue reading

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Six novels shortlisted for Shakti Bhatt prize

smokeisrisingAuthor Deepti Kapoor’s “A Bad Character”, Shovon Chowdhury’s “The Competent Authority”, and Mahesh Rao’s “The Smoke is Rising” are among six books shortlisted for the 2014 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, the organisers said Sunday.

The award is named after journalist Shakti Bhatt, who passed away in 2007. The winners will be announced in November and will get a cash award of Rs.2,00,000.  Continue reading

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Jaipur literature fest announces new art award

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, the world’s largest free literary festival, on Monday announced a new art award to be presented in partnership with Delhi-based art organisation Ojas Art.

The Ojas Art Award, a new annual addition to the Festival, will be presented to two Indian artists.

It will be worth Rs. 51,000 and Rs. 31,000 respectively. The award will also celebrate and encourage new artistic talent by providing a platform for the artists to showcase their work at the LitFest. Continue reading

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Tussle between author Chitra B. Divakaruni and makers of ‘Mera Naseeb’ has taken a new turn

The tussle between Indian American author Chitra B. Divakaruni and the makers of TV show ‘Mera Naseeb’ has taken a new turn.

Chitra had earlier alleged that the show has ‘stolen’ its plot from her novel ‘Sister Of My Heart’ and threatened legal action (Mirror, September 27). Now Manish Goswami, the producer of hit TV shows like ‘Kitty Party’, ‘Sarrkkar’ and ‘Aashirwad’, has joined Chitra’s side in the fight. The reason: Chitra had sold the TV rights of the same book to Goswami.

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(Book Trailer) Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician by Zafar Anjum

This is the video trailer of the biography of great Indian and Pakistani poet and Muslim philosopher Iqbal, Iqbal: The Life of a Poet, Philosopher and Politician, published by Random House India (October, 2014).

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6th Lu Xun literature prize ceremony held in Beijing

The 6th Lu Xun literature prize ceremony was held in Beijing Tuesday night. Several award-winning writers and nearly 500 literature lovers attended the ceremony.

Thirty four works, including “Father’s Snow Mountain, Mother’s Grassland “, “Invisible Clothes” and a collection of traditional poetry were recognized out of more than 1,000 entries.  Continue reading

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U R Ananthamurthy, North East issues to hog limelight at Bangalore Literature Festival

It’s time for another edition of Bangalore Literature Festival! Starting today, literature buffs from across the city will make their way to Crowne Plaza to attend the three-day festival that has grown immensely popular. Now in its third edition, the BLF 2014 has been dedicated entirely to the memory of Karnataka’s literary giant U R Ananthamurthy. Continue reading

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Celebrating multicultural literature in Beirut

Many of our most famous authors wrote their masterpieces in a second language. Vladimir Nabokov penned his first nine novels in Russian, but wrote “Lolita” in English.

Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, and although he chose to write in English he identified as a Pole. Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett lived in Paris for much of his adult life and was an accomplished writer in both English and French. Continue reading

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Jury of DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2015 to be chaired by Keki N Daruwalla

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature has announced its jury for its 2015 edition. The international jury panel will be chaired by Keki N Daruwalla, leading  Indian writer and poet. He is joined by John Freeman – author, literary critic and former editor of Granta from the US, Maithree Wickramasinghe – a Professor  of English at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and the University of Sussex and an expert on gender studies; Michael Worton – Emeritus Professor at UCL (University College London) who has written extensively on modern literature and art; and Razi Ahmed – the founding director of the annual, not-for-profit Lahore  Literary Festival (LLF).

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