Kitaab

Asia+n writing in English


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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Karan Bajaj

Karan Bajaj

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?
For me, writing is an expression of my deepest ideas, thoughts I can’t even articulate verbally to myself. Six years after leaving India for the first time and living a nomadic existence in Philippines, Singapore, Europe, and the US, I felt a deep stirring within me that I had stories to share and my own unique insight into the messy, glorious human condition. The need to express these ideas got me interested in writing. Over the last eight years, it’s been satisfying to see my writing evolve as my ideas have deepened—and there is so much more ground to cover.

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

The Seeker is a pulsating, contemporary take on man’s classic quest for transcendence. It follows a Manhattan based investment banker who becomes a yogi in the Indian Himalayas. To be honest, I’ve completely let go of the idea of the author trying to say something with a novel. All I’m trying to create is a fictive dream, a world in which the characters inhabit their own universe and learn their own lessons. In that way, The Seeker is my purest book yet. I’ve just been a medium for the story to express itself without an active sense of authorship. Continue reading


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China: Chinese literature prize guards against corrupt judging

The organizers of one of China’s top literary awards have set up a team to supervise the judging process and make sure it is fair and free of corruption.

Qian Xiaoqian, vice chairman of the China Writers Association (CWA), said at the first meeting of the Mao Dun Literature Prize jury that the team will monitor the entire 18-day process of judging and selection, according to a report published on the CWA website on Friday.

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India: Awakening the aesthete within the reader

Munshi Premchand, whose 135th birth anniversary was on July 31, aimed to take the average middle-class reader from a state of ennui and indifference to a state of enlightenment: The Hindu

Upanyas samrat (master novelist) — that’s how Munshi Premchand, whose 135th birth anniversary was on July 31, is known in modern Hindi literature. His patois consisted of a delicious combination of Urdu and Hindi (Urdu-mishrit-Hindi, as critics call it), expressed in a form that even an unlettered person could easily relate to. A socialist, feminist, progressive intellectual much before these terms acquired their modern definitions, Premchand believed in championing the cause of the marginalised — like peasants, widows, prostitutes — through his writing. His oeuvre —14 novels and 300 short stories — established his reputation as a genius. His reflections in the form of numerous essays provide a glimpse into the mind of the master-wordsmith.

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War and Occupation in Iraqi Fiction

The Iraqi war canon has been overtaken by American military accounts. US military titles have been published and promoted with regularity while war literature by Iraqi authors has consistently been ignored or left untranslated. In Iraqi literature, the occupation is presented as almost an exclusively American event. Post-occupation Iraqi fiction, or post-2003 fiction, is largely absent from the literary accounts of the war in the US. This is why Ikram Masmoudi’s War and Occupation in Iraqi Fiction, published this year, is a necessary and welcome intervention. Continue reading


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Haruki Murakami: the moment I knew I would be a novelist

Haruki MurakamiAs Haruki Murakami’s early ‘kitchen-table novels’ are published in English for the first time, he reveals how a baseball game – and a wounded pigeon – changed the course of his life: The Independent

Most people – by which I mean most of us who are a part of Japanese society – graduate from school, then find work, then, after some time has passed, get married. Even I originally intended to follow that pattern. Or at least that was how I imagined things would turn out. Yet in reality I married, then started working, then (somehow) finally managed to graduate. In other words, the order I followed was the exact opposite of what was considered normal.

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Indonesian literature ‘needs exposure to be noticed internationally’

Feby Indirani was an accomplished TV journalist when she decided to become a full-time author. In DW interview, she talks about the potential of Indonesian literature and her own journey as a writer: DW

Feby Indirani

DW: In 2013, you decided to leave your job as a successful journalist for a life of uncertainty as a full-time writer. Were your family and friends happy with your decision?

Feby Indirani: Some of my friends were skeptical about my decision and called me crazy. They knew I had published some books, but quitting a stable job was quite shocking for many. When you are a TV producer and you host your own show, you are not expected to give it up for something as unconventional as writing. They asked me whether I was sure about my decision and wouldn’t be missing the TV glamour. Even after two years some people still ask those questions. Continue reading


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Over 100 writers to attend Dubai literature festival

More than 100 writers have confirmed their presence for the 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature said Isobel Abulhoul CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and festival director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Organisers say monthly announcements of writers participating in the upcoming festival which will take place from March 8 to 12 next year will continue up until the launch in October of this year. They have released the first set of 12 writers which has drummed up great deal of excitement among book lovers. “The official launch of the 2016 Festival will be in October and our author list to date looks incredible” Isobel Abulhoul said.

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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Sonnet Mondal

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

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

I have been a witness of sharp and frequent vicissitudes of life. Whenever the road of life seemed downy to me – some deadly obstacle made me comprehend that I am in a capricious voyage through unknown waters beneath stranger skies. From day one of my scribbling and entry into the self-revealing world of poetry to my present, poetry has been an accompaniment for me and I am less concerned about what others feel about this sublime supplement of my life. The best part is we have frequent quarrels and sometimes we stay apart but at the end of the day, it is me opening a bottle of wine without using a corkscrew for my accompaniment, Poetry.

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

Among my most recent projects there is a book titled Karmic Chanting – Poetry in Folds. It can be considered a collection of large mystical poems containing smaller poems folded inside one theme. Some of the poems in this project will also be performed on stage in conjugation with the Kathak dance form later this year in another of my upcoming projects titled “Echoing Shadows”.

I am literally trying to achieve nothing through this but at the same time my inner self longs to pen down my major self-realizations thus far and impart whatever good in them among the compact and strong poetry-reading masses.
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India: Former President and bestselling author APJ Abdul Kalam Dies at 83

kalamFormer President of India and one of India’s bestselling authors, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, died on Monday evening at a hospital in Meghalaya, where he had gone to deliver a lecture. He was 83.

Known for his visionary ideas grounded in practical experience, Dr Kalam published numerous books including the path-breaking works India 2020, Ignited Minds, Target 3 Billion, Life Tree: Poems, Mission 2020 and Beyond 2020.  Written in straight-forward, accessible language each book shared his passion to help India and Indians dream big, and offered an action plan to help realise these goals.  Continue reading

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