Kitaab

Asia+n writing in English


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Bestselling authors write to Amazon’s board over ‘ugly’ Hachette sales dispute

Group representing Donna Tartt, Stephen King and others says Amazon tactics have driven sales down by at least 50%: The Guardian

Some of the world’s most famous authors escalated their heated dispute with Amazon on Monday, publishing a letter to retailer’s board warning of the “ugly history” of blocking book sales.

Amazon and publishing giant Hachette have been locked in a six-month dispute over the pricing of e-books that has led Amazon to delay shipment of Hachette authors, refuse pre-orders and institute other tactics aimed at damping the publisher’s sales.

Bestselling authors including Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen King, Michael Pollan and Donna Tartt are among the Hachette authors who have protested Amazon’s move. Continue reading


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V S Naipaul dropped from Ubud Writers Festival for demanding $20,000 as appearance fee

Both V S Naipaul and Paul Theroux, who are not appearing in this year’s Ubud Festival in Bali, will appear in Jaipur Lit Fest in India and Singapore Writers Festival respectively

NaipaulFor this year’s festival from October 1-5, festival director Janet DeNeefe invited the American writer Paul Theroux, who had expressed interest after eating at her Ubud restaurant Indus. When she rejected his request for a fee for which, she says, “I could have got David Attenborough”, Theroux agreed instead to appear at the Singapore Writers Festival in November.
DeNeefe then invited V.S. Naipaul, the distinguished but difficult 82-year-old Trinidad-born British writer, who recently ended a long feud with Theroux. To her amazement the Wylie Agency accepted, with the promise of first- and business-class travel and a luxurious villa.

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Journalist duo launch book on Indian economy in Singapore

India’s High Commissioner to Singapore Vijay Thakur Singh launches the book on Indian socio-economy in Singapore. Joining the launch on 12 September 2014 are Dr V P Nair, President of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, book co-author, Gurdip Singh and Sameer Mohindru as well as Vikram Khanna, associate editor of Singapore’s Business Times.

India’s High Commissioner to Singapore Vijay Thakur Singh launches the book on Indian socio-economy in Singapore. Joining the launch on 12 September 2014 are Dr V P Nair, President of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, book co-author, Gurdip Singh and Sameer Mohindru as well as Vikram Khanna, associate editor of Singapore’s Business Times.

Singapore-based journalists, Gurdip Singh and Sameer C. Mohindru, have edited a volume on India titled, “What’s up! What’s Down! Essays on Indian Socio-Economy”.

The book was launched on 12 September at the Singapore Management University by seasoned diplomat and India’s High Commissioner to Singapore, Vijay Thakur Singh.

“To the question, what’s up? what’s down, my answer is that everything is up,” High Commissioner Singh said while addressing a large gathering of the Indian diaspora and university staff and students before launching the 224-page book . From smart cities to industrial corridors to river cleaning and expansion in education sector, the message is loud and clear, “India is full of opportunities,” Singh said. Continue reading


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Kitaab interview with Altaf Tyrewala: Never think of a short story in isolation

altafAltaf Tyrewala is a Mumbai-based Indian, English-language writer. He studied advertising and marketing in New York, and returned to Mumbai in 1999 to work on his critically acclaimed debut novel, No God in Sight. In 2012, he published The Ministry of Hurt Sentiments. His new book is a collection of short stories, Englishh: Fictional Dispatches from a Hyperral Nation.
Kitaab’s Zafar Anjum interviewed him recently over email:
You started writing short stories in 2001 if I am not wrong. So far you have published two collections of short stories, assuming that your first book was a collection of interconnected stories. What explains your fascination with this genre? 
I wrote my first short story on the job. I was working as a content developer for an e-learning firm. I guess I would have attempted a novel if I had cut my teeth doing long form journalism or even coming up with ad jingles (I had a degree in advertising). But creating content that would be accessed entirely through computer screens, it taught me a lesson in conciseness and making my point as quickly as possible. So when I began my foray into fiction writing, those e-learning habits were hard to drop. In a sense, No God In Sight is structured like a website, one story hyper-linked to the next, each story containing a world in itself, until things finally come full circle. But I also have to clarify, I never wrote a story without being acutely aware of how it would fit into the larger pattern of the stories preceding it. I wasn’t writing a novel, I wasn’t doing the classic short stories, I didn’t know what I was doing, but it consumed me for 4 years.
Do you plan to attempt a novel anytime soon? I am not saying that it necessary to do so.
Thank you, I appreciate how you’ve tried to soften the blow.

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A world of fear for Japan’s shut-ins

It’s not surprising to see foreign academic and cultural interest in the phenomenon of shut-ins. In 2012, that curiosity sparked two novels from German-speaking writers. One, by Kevin Kuhn, is unsurprisingly titled “Hikikomori.” The other, by Milena Michiko Flasar, has just been translated into English as “I Called Him Necktie.”

Several years ago, a vogue of interest in shut-ins, or hikikomori, saw researchers from France touring Japan and meeting reclusive youths. Such was the prevalence of the disorder, said psychologist Nicolas Tajan, that “if you ask people in Japan about hikikomori, almost everyone will say, ‘I know somebody like that.’ But there is no such word in France.” Continue reading


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National Museum of Classic Books opens in Beijing

The National Museum of Classic Books has officially opened to public in Beijing.

This is the first museum of its kind for the country.  National Museum of Classic Books opens in Beijing Rare Western books on display  The facility’s current exhibition features rare items from the collection of the Chinese National Library, where the museum is housed.   Continue reading


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Book Bucket Challenge on the rise in China

Since the Book Bucket Challenge went viral on Facebook the trend has swept onto China’s Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo. The meme asks users to list the 10 books that had the greatest impact on their lives and then forward the challenge by tagging friends.  Recommendations snowballed and hit Sina Weibo on Sept 5 as writer and translator Fang Bolin listed 10 books. Hong Kong writer Liao Weitang later followed suit.  The challenge began picking up and on the evening of Mid-Autumn Day was listed among the hot keywords on Sina Weibo. Up to the morning of Sept 11, more than 10,000 users had accepted and the topic had drawn 28,000 comments.   Continue reading


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China: Xi urges traditional Chinese classics be kept in textbooks

President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, the eve of Teacher’s Day in China, emphasized the importance of keeping Chinese classic poems and essays in high school textbooks.  Xi spoke at Beijing Normal University, where he visited labs and teaching sessions and talked with students and faculty.   Continue reading


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China: Looking for the next Mo Yan

A group of Sinologists have “nominated” the most promising Chinese candidates for the 2014 Nobel Prize in literature, which is expected to be announced in October. Most said novelist Liu Zhenyun is the strongest candidate to win the prize. The Sinologists made the nomination during a symposium on Chinese literature and translation last month in Beijing. Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2012.   Continue reading

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