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How a Pakistani novelist and translator learned to love dictionaries

(From Zocalo Public Square. Link to the complete article given below)

An image from a winter morning in Hyderabad, Pakistan, when I was four, forms my earliest memory of literacy.

Bundled up in layers of sweaters, I am reciting from an Urdu newspaper as I sit astride my neighbor’s pet goat. I am certain that the sequence of words or their relationships to each other made no sense to me. But my prowess in reading individual words made the exercise as meaningful and empowering as the ability to ride the goat.

That pride, perhaps, explained my ecumenical approach to reading texts in my native language. Possessed by the joy of recognizing words, I did not pass judgment as to the nature of the content, but devoured everything, from my grandfather’s homeopathy manuals to legal documents and exercise guides for warding off old age. A devoted reader does not discriminate between one arrangement of words and another, or between words and numbers. For someone in my situation, Anna Karenina and the railway timetable were one.

As I grew up and moved to Karachi and then Toronto, however, the order and meaning of words took on agonizing importance. I made language my career, becoming a novelist and translator of Urdu classics.

Expanding on the latter role, I eventually developed programs to reintroduce Urdu literature into schools in Pakistan and teach children the vocabulary necessary to understand them. Along the way, I would compile the Urdu language’s first online thesaurus. Oddly enough, it was not the early experience reading astride a goat that shaped my approach in working with children, but a more unfortunate early memory that served as a cautionary tale.

Read more at this Zocalo Public Square link

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New Apps Provide a World of Literature, One Chapter at a Time

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This year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple’s all-purpose gadget that kicked off the smartphone boom and forever changed the way we communicate, collect and consume information. With portability and a knack for relieving boredom, the iPhone and its ilk naturally became ad hoc e-book readers for busy people seeking brief escape to fictional places from nonfiction reality, like being trapped in transit or stuck in a Trader Joe’s line stretching to infinity and beyond.

Serious readers know squinting through a sprawling novel can take some effort on the small screen. But just as websites, videos and games soon adapted themselves for the smartphone experience, a new type of “mobile fiction” has emerged to fit the confines of the device — and today’s on-demand attitude.

Modern mobile fiction typically consists of sections of a novel or story that take just 15 to 20 minutes to absorb. The installments are cleanly formatted for easy reading on a four- or five-inch screen, and delivered at regular intervals by email or app (Android and iOS). Cliffhangers are popular. Read more

Source: The New York Times


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Turn a new page on the go, thanks to innovative reading apps

Avid readers don’t like to be away from their books, whether it be the commute to work or a quick coffee break in the afternoon. Similarly, news addicts need the constant stream of updates about anything and everything happening around the world. Not to forget those who rely on the depths of the World Wide Web for high-quality, long-form stories. Chances are, you already carry a smartphone, even if you don’t carry a tablet or an iPad, so here are some awesome reading apps that you should try. Read more


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Bookmate expands deal with HarperCollins

In an expanded deal, Bookmate has signed up HarperCollins Publishers on board its subscription-based social reading service, the Russia headquartered company announced today.

The agreement, which expands the deal struck in October 2014, will add a significant number of books from HarperCollins’ UK catalogue to Bookmate’s library of English-language titles, bringing the total number of English-language tittles up to 250,000, the company said in a statement. Continue reading


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Tencent set to dominate online literature market

Chinese internet giant Tencent is expected to dominate the market for online literature after completing its acquisition of Shanda Cloudary, Shanda’s online literature company, reports the China Business News.

Tencent and Shanda recently reached an agreement to jointly set up a new company, China Reading, in the online literature space. A number of literary websites affiliated with Tencent Literature and publishing institutions under Shanda Cloudary will come under the management of the new company following the acquisition. Continue reading


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Must have classic literature immersive apps

shakespeare-sonnets-100353874-largeThe iPad offers such powerful features – and excellent resolution – that truly enhanced books are possible. Here are six apps for the iPad that have popped up in recent years that look at great literature, paying homage to fantastic works while adding new layers.

Literature from Shakespeare

Let’s start with the Bard of Avon, Will Shakespeare. Both poet and playwright are represented with excellent apps. Touch Press’s $17.99 The Sonnets by William Shakespeare is a perfect example of what’s possible in an enhanced book. Not only do you get the text itself and notes from the Arden Shakespeare edition, but you also get videos of actors and Shakespeare specialists reading all 154 sonnets. There’s a facsimile of the 1609 Quarto edition of the poems, and plenty of background information to help you understand them.

Literature from James Joyce

James Joyce is another author whose works lend themselves to this approach. Naxos’ $10.99 Joyce’s Ulysses: A Guide unlocks the doors to that reputedly difficult classic novel. With a full text, replete with hundreds of annotations, and plenty of background information, you can dive into Ulysses with no fear of getting lost. There’s information about Joyce’s life, the music in the book, a brief recording of Joyce reading from it, and even an abridged audiobook of Ulysses (the full version is too costly to be included in the app).

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