Kitaab

Asia+n writing in English


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Occupy the Novel: Review of ‘The Gypsy Goddess’ by Meena Kandasamy

There are some rough patches in Meena Kandasamy’s novel The Gypsy Goddess (Atlantic Books, 2014, pp 283) but the author’s spontaneity, coupled with a radiant wit makes this a memorable novel. Beyond the hard-hitting storyline, the variety of experiments with form would keep one engaged, marking out this book as an important debut of the year, says Rajat Chaudhuri.  

Gypsy GoddessThe Wikipedia entry on the Kilvenmani massacre is a mere 800 words long while the Economic and Political Weekly article that pops up in a JSTOR search, at two and half pages, offers a slightly better word count. A couple of documentaries on YouTube, a few stray newspaper reports from the past, is about all that Google manages to throw up about this barbaric killing of poor unarmed Dalit villagers of Kilvenmani in Tamil Nadu, southern India that happened on Christmas day, 1968. Now that someone has written a fictionalised account in English about this half forgotten incident, buried deep in the annals of peoples’ struggles, was reason enough to get hold of a copy of The Gypsy Goddess. Hardbound, with a brilliant crimson cover with gold lettering and wrapped up in a beautifully designed dust jacket, it appeared in my mailbox exuding vintage chic.

The story is about the cold-blooded massacre of forty two people of Kilvenmani village by caste Hindu landlords and their goons just as Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 was about the mindless bombing of Dresden by the allied forces. And obviously it is an immensely difficult story to tell because wanton killing doesn’t lend itself well to traditional forms of storytelling. Continue reading


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S. Korean poet Ko Un wins Golden Wreath Award

Renowned South Korean poet Ko Un has won this year’s Golden Wreath, one of the world’s most authoritative awards for poets, the Korean National Commission for UNESCO said Monday.

Ko received the award at the end of an annual poetry festival in the southern Macedonian town of Struga on Sunday for his overall ody of work, the commission said.

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Storytelling: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass rendered into Urdu

The lost form of Urdu story telling — Dastangoi — was rediscovered at The Attic, a cozy little venue at the Regal Building in Connaught Place by a group of children.

The venue was packed to the brim with young kids, as well as adults on Tuesday to listen to an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass titled Dastan Alice ki . Continue reading


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Call For Applications: Bangla-English Literary Translation Workshop

Dhaka Translation Centre (DTC), in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation, Commonwealth Writers and English Pen, is delighted to announce a call for applications for a workshop on Bangla-English translation, to be held in Dhaka from 15-20 November 2014. Continue reading


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Replacement judges appointed for the Singapore Literature Prize 2014

The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS), which organises the biennial Singapore Literature Prize, has appointed three new judges in the category of English Non-Fiction to replace those who resigned in protest of the National Library Board’s (NLB) actions earlier this year. Continue reading


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S’pore poet Yeow Kai Chai to head Singapore Writers Fest next year

yeow_kai_chaiThe Singapore Writers Festival will have a new director next year:  Yeow Kai Chai, a well-known poet and journalist.

The festival’s current director, Paul Tan, also a poet, will be stepping down after this year’s edition. Tan is also deputy chief executive officer of the National Arts Council.

“We look forward to Kai Chai joining the SWF team in December,” Tan said in a media statement. “He is away in Iowa now at a writing residency programme as he is a poet in his own right. We’ll be sharing more details when he comes on board.”

The Singapore Writers Festival will also return to its original venue The Arts House where its events will take place (in the Empress Place Civic District).

The festival has been held on the lawns of the Singapore Management University campus green since 2011.


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The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was an inside job, claims new book

Faraz Ahmad’s effort in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: An Inside Job? challenges previous narratives on the investigation into former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, says Ushinor Majumdar in Tehelka

rajeevAhmad brings his investigative skills to decoding this mystery by offering several motives to liquidate Rajiv Gandhi that myriad groups of people may have had. According to him, the LTTE was merely the trigger that many hitmen were waiting to pull. His book, Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: An Inside Job? looks at some important aspects of the investigation. Continue reading


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Review: No Country by Kalyan Ray

Kalyan Ray’s ambitious novel is an often moving tale about the travails of the abandoned and the uprooted, writes Pradyot Lal in Tehelka

No CountryThis is at one level a deeply engrossing journey about lives, continents and history. It is also about abandonment, loss of identity and the search for a new life, implying in the process the fact that the universal regime is of course inter-connected.

While telling the story, Kalyan Ray has woven together private histories and real events as he takes us through a multigenerational saga spanning 200 years. The year is 1843 in Sligo, Ireland, where people are starving and small cottages are being torched to punish tenants who cannot afford to pay rent. Two small boys with different backgrounds and persuasions are caught in a situation rendered even more thankless by the historical context. Continue reading


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Japan: Haruki Murakami’s new novel journeys to the past

Haruki MurakamiFor author and character, the book is a story of a life examined and reclaimed. Tsukuru seeks out his friends at the urging of a woman he has started dating. Murakami said he began “Colorless Tsukuru” around three years ago as a work of short fiction, but soon found himself caught up in Tsukuru’s mystery. The author didn’t know at first why Tsukuru’s friends had abandoned him and he expanded the narrative as a way of finding out.

“I had to know his past,” Murakami said. “I’m making it up and at the same time I’m finding it.” Continue reading

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