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Unearthing: A poem by Mohineet Kaur Boparai

Mohineet Kaur Boparai is a research scholar at the Department of English, Punjabi University, Patiala in India. Her research interests include issues of subalternity and agency. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Lindenwood Review. She has published three books of poetry, Poems That Never Were(2007), Windows to the Ocean(2012) and Lives of My Love (2012). Her poetry has also appeared in several journals and anthologies including the coveted anthology of Indian poetry, The Dance of the Peacock (2013), The Lindenwood Review and Zymbol Magazine. She is teaching English at DAV University, Jalandhar. She is 29 and lives at Moga.

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If I have an idea or if I see an image, hear a sound which triggers something in my imagination, then I have to write it down:Amna K. Boheim


Amna K. Boheim worked in investment banking before turning to writing. She also writes a blog on life’s little idiosyncrasies, the curious and the funny as well as dabbling in a bit of flash fiction and poetry. The Silent Children is her debut novel; it was awarded the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2016 silver medal for best suspense/thriller novel.

Unlike most South Asian writers’ initial works, your debut novel contains no allusions to your Eastern roots. Was that a conscious decision?

My roots are very important to me, but in this instance — my first novel — I just had it in my head to write a mystery set in Vienna, a city which has a repressed air about it and one that lent itself to the story that was evolving in my head. I think there are so many brilliant South Asian authors who have written novels about their culture. Perhaps it’s a confidence issue, but I feel that at the moment (other than one particular story I’m still in two minds about) the ideas I have in my head are nothing original.

Was it daunting to write about a setting of which you presumably do not have intimate knowledge, or was it liberating as you had to go solely by your instincts and research?

I have been lucky enough to visit Vienna many times. For The Silent ChildrenI specifically went there twice to walk around Ober St Veit where Max’s mother’s house is (which is part of Hietzing), as well as walking around the 1st District. Wandering around the city was important for me to get a sense of the streets, the architecture, and the everyday life.

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Silence of the sage and saint

Forerunner of the kahani style of Indic English writers and an author with a transcendental view,  Raja Rao deserves a better position in the literary pantheon.

His first novel, Kanthapura, written in 1937 when he was only 21 years old, has continued to be acclaimed as a precursor of a kahani – Puranic style of Indic-English.

His preface to Kanthapura is often cited as the quintessential statement or manifesto of Indian writers in English, where he wrote that “English is not really an alien” to India, but like Persian and Sanskrit before, has become the language of governance and of India’s “intellectual make-up.” He continued, “We cannot write like the English. We should not. We can write only as Indians” because the “tempo of Indian life must be infused into our English expression. . . . We, in India, think quickly, and when we move we move quickly.”

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India:Following Bengal’s appetite for detective fiction

Over the years, West Bengal – or Bengal, as it was formerly known – has made rich contributions to the enormous treasure trove of Indian literature. Great novelists, short-story writers, poets and playwrights from the region have kept readers enthralled with their literary creations.

And while it has been a long-standing debate in literary circles all over the world as to whether the “detective story” can and should be allowed to rub shoulders with its more elitist cousins – namely the members of classical literature – there has evidently been no dearth of such stories in India, certainly not in Bengal.

In fact, it would not be incorrect to say that at one point of time, the Bengali detective story had reached a peak of popularity that few other novels could even dream of. Read more

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What is the politics of literature? A critical study of two Indian writers attempts to answer


If a writer is involved in a political movement, do these two roles, that of a writer and an activist, inhabit her as “two indispensable alterities” of her indivisible and “individual self”? Or do they “co-exist” “separately” “within the same individual, and thus in no apparent relation with each other”? In The Deed of Words, a critical study of the works of the Bangladeshi writer, Akhtaruzzaman Elias, and the Hindi writer, Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh, Pothik Ghosh explores a fundamental question — what is the politics and use, if any, of literature?

Both Elias and Muktibodh were avowedly Leftist, as Ghosh examines their works through the prism of Alain Badiou’s concept of subtraction. The French philosopher is among the most prominent figures in the last few decades to have argued for the revival of communism.

Ghosh charts his course by making a series of assertions about art. At first, he states that a writer’s love for literature and her engagement with radical political movements lead to “separated” and “non-relational coexistence” of these two selves. He then argues that the terms of reference should not be the “use of art for politics”, but the “use of politics in art”. Such a method, he proposes, introduces novelty in art, what Badiou elsewhere termed “subtraction” and explained by citing the works of Paolo Pasolini. Read more


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Unlearnt history lessons

Historical research is the true hero of this book, which fails to follow up promising narrative threads

The Untitled is a book that harks back to the novels of the 20th century, an era when literary enterprises comfortably contained orphans, fortune-seeking travellers, spies, political intrigue, love and betrayal, all jostling for space in a single narrative. Gayathri Prabhu stitches these elements together with a politics that is sympathetic, as the title obliquely conveys, to those whom typical histories would leave out. The story’s central protagonists are unusual choices — a ragged English portraitist, a laconic young Brahmin whose aspirations veer towards art rather than astrology, and an adopted daughter of a temple priest whose intelligence places her at the centre of both a love triangle and the machinations of the royal court.

But the author’s historical research is the real hero of the book. (The jacket mentions research done at the National Archive in Delhi and the British Library in London.) The details she collected allow her to effectively harness the inherent drama and romance surrounding the end of an empire — Tipu Sultan’s last stand against the rampaging British East India Company at Srirangapatna. Read more

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New release – An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor


Revealing the ugly truth about the British rule in India is Shashi Tharoor’s latest book An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India. The book published by Aleph Book Company is slated to launch on 1st November.

An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India originated from a speech made by Shashi Tharoor at the Oxford Union in 2015, that went viral across digital platforms clocking 3.5 million hits.

In this explosive book, the author reveals with acuity, impeccable research, and trademark wit, just how disastrous British rule was for India. Besides examining the many ways in which the colonizers exploited India, ranging from the drain of national resources to Britain, the destruction of the Indian textile, steel-making and shipping industries, and the negative transformation of agriculture, he demolishes the arguments of Western and Indian apologists for Empire on the supposed benefits of British rule, including democracy and political freedom, the rule of law, and the railways. The few unarguable benefits—the English language, tea, and cricket—were never actually intended for the benefit of the colonized but introduced to serve the interests of the colonizers. An Era of Darkness will serve to correct many misconceptions about one of the most contested periods of Indian history.


About the author:

Shashi Tharoor is the bestselling author of fifteen previous books, both fiction and non-fiction, besides being a noted critic and columnist. His books include the path-breaking satire The Great Indian Novel (1989), the classic India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997), and most recently, India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in Our Time (2015). He was a former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and a former Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. He is a two-time member of the Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram and chairs Parliament’s External Affairs Committee. He has won numerous literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was honoured as New Age Politician of the Year (2010) by NDTV. He was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India’s highest honour for overseas Indians.




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Korea:First bookstore dedicated to science opens in Seoul


The 21st century might be the era when paper books are threatened with extinction, but the charm of flipping through pages of traditional books cannot be beaten. People still buy paper books and despite the prevalent online shopping experience, they even go to brick-and-mortar bookstores to browse the shelves.

A new bookstore filled with science and art books in Seoul’s hip Itaewon area diversifies a book lover’s experience.

A new bookstore filled with science and art books in Seoul’s hip Itaewon area diversifies a book lover’s experience.

Bookpark, on the third floor of Blue Square, which also houses two large theaters staging the Broadway hit “Kinky Boots,” has some 50,000 books solely on science, art and humanities, which is rare in Korea. Science books take up most of the shelves and the categorization of books on sale ranges from the basic “Understanding of Science” to the more detailed “Mathematics” and “Brain Science.” Read more

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Review:The Wangs VS. The World


The best moment of “The Wangs vs. the World” comes when young Andrew Wang attempts his first stand-up open mike. He talks honestly about his family, privilege and Chinese-American identity, but it’s only when he does an impression of his father’s broken English that he finally gets “a single shout of laughter.” The entire scene is hilariously cringeworthy, especially when Andrew becomes ashamed mid-act for imitating his father. “You know what white people really, really, really love?” he asks the audience. “When Asian comedians make fun of their parents. Yep, because you guys just want an excuse to laugh at Asian accents.” The crowd is uncomfortable; as a reader, I was overjoyed. “The Wangs vs. the World” is not a book where you laugh at Asian accents — you laugh at the people who would laugh at Asian accents.

Jade Chang is unendingly clever in her generous debut novel about the comedy of racial identity. If there is a stereotype that Asian-Americans kids are quiet, unpopular and studious, that their parents are strict disciplinarians (think Tiger Mom), then Chang has conjured up the Wangs to prove otherwise. Read more

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India:Odisha Literature Festival to be held in Bhubaneswar on Nov 5 & 6

The fifth edition of The New Indian Express’ Odisha Literature Festival will be held at Mayfair Convention Centre in Bhubaneswar on November 5 & 6, 2016. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who has been an integral part of the festival from the very start and seen it grow from strength to strength, will deliver the Keynote Closing Address. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will open the festival and deliver the inaugural address. Like in the previous years, Oxford Book Store will set up a special counter at the festival and sell all the participants’ books, in addition to other exciting new releases. Entry is free, and open to all.

How relevant is our literature?

Is contemporary Odia literature in tune with contemporary Odisha? Does it reflect today’s society or has it failed to understand the social perspective of modern-day readers? These writers will discuss what Odia literature needs to do to remain meaningful and relevant. Read more