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“EroText is an avant-garde experimental book” – Sudeep Sen

screen-shot-2016-01-02-at-1-14-18-amSudeep Sen on his latest book EroText.

Why is EroText a book of fiction? 

A novel is a meditation on existence . . . The form is unlimited freedom. — Milan Kundera

Kundera’s ‘unlimited freedom’; my own remoulding of the ekphrastic technique; Rodin’s passionate dictum where ‘the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation’ form the essential keystone for the soul and syntactical structure of the experimental fiction in Erotext. So, unsurprisingly, I use a highly wrought stylized mode of micro-fiction that overlaps with aspects of prose-poetry, and poetry that overlaps with aspects of fiction.

In EroText, I have also experimented with language like one would in the rendition of classical Indian raga, where the same piece of song or text can be variously sung or interpreted by different practitioners, albeit in a highly controlled and dextrous manner. So an old poem may have been revived or reincarnated as a prose text to convey a different angle of the same story, a happenstance, or another hidden moment in time.

Changing the form without at all altering the textual content can be very rewarding, albeit risky at the same time. But then, what is cutting-edge avant-garde writing, if there is no risk-taking. What is the point if one is not willing to bend and push the conventional boundaries of genre to come up with an alternate score or a variation, much like the formal play in classical music and jazz improvisation.

EroText is an avant-garde experimental book. It attempts to redefine or extend the standard genre-classifications of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I can tell you, from what I can see from the early market and critical response, that as a book of micro-fiction it is generating interest from an entirely different set of audiences who see themselves as consumers of general, commercial and literary fiction, and not perhaps of poetry. So that is a very healthy and positive sign.

Tell us about the ‘Disease’ or ‘BodyText’ section of the book.

In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing, about the dark times. — Bertolt Brecht

The ‘Disease’ or ‘BodyText’ section of this book contends with private and uncomfortable areas of pain, illness and disease — an example of how a prolonged anesthetic medical experience can give rise to lyrical writing, inspired by and in spite of its sterile surroundings. Commenting on this, literary critic Pramod Nayar, wrote, ‘While excavating a set of images from physics, chemistry and biology, Sen does an extraordinary job of imbricating the corporeal with the natural elements and processes [in] a brilliant formalizing of these themes . . . the images are startlingly fresh and extremely evocative.’

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Book Review: With The Explosion Chronicles, Yan Lianke shows us why fiction matters

By James Kidd

The Explosion Chronicles
by Yan Lianke

Chatto & Windus

Remind me again – why do we read fiction? Putting aside the probability that television is telling stories better than anyone else, that cinema at least provides an audience, that video games turn readers into players, books themselves can feel a little last millennium.

Moreover, as 2016 proved, life itself is giving litera­ture a run for its money when it comes to telling tales. If Donald Trump didn’t actually exist, then a Don DeLillo, a Martin Amis (or a Nigel Farage) would surely have to invent him.

Nowhere are the lines separating reality from fiction more blurred than in China, whose recent past, as Yan Lianke acknowledges in a pointed afterword to The Explosion Chronicles, very nearly beggars belief: “As the entire world stares incredulously at contemporary China’s miraculous transformation, the nation’s authors feel they have reached a point where literature can no longer directly reflect reality.” Nor, Yan continues, are these limitations confined to Chinese writers. “Even the ideologies and techniques associated with world literature would emit a collective sigh of despair if confronted with China’s extraordinary events.” Read more

Source: South China Morning Post

 


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India: The Gateway LitFest brings together authors from all over India to discuss trends in regional literature.

By Radhika Singh

The Gateway LitFest, an annual platform that celebrates regional language literature, is holding its third edition this weekend. The two-day festival, whose theme this year is “The Contemporary Face of Indian Literature”, will focus on Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Punjabi, and Malayalam. With a list of 40 authors and artists, including Bratya Basu (Bengali), Chandana Dutt (Mythili), Damodar Mauzo (Konkani) and Desraj Kali (Punjabi), the festival aims to highlight the writings, experiments and translation work in regional languages.

“Writing in region languages gets overshadowed by what people generally refer to as ‘Indian literature’, which is writing in English by an Indian author,” says festival organiser Mohan Kakkanadan, adding, “We are creating a platform to encourage the acceptance of regional writing as a part of mainstream literature.” Panel discussions during the festival will evaluate the latest trends from the regional literary streams. The event will be held at the National Centre for Performing Arts. Read more

Source: The Indian Express


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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Easterine Kire

By Aminah Sheikh

easterine-kire

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

I write because I love to write. From childhood I have loved reading, and it was a natural progression to write stories as I grew older.

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

My publisher, Speaking Tiger, published my novel, Son of the Thundercloud in December 2016. It is the story of the Christ-child growing up as a Naga boy. I experimented with placing a well-known story in a completely different setting and giving it a different cultural background, transferring the mystery elements with it. It gave me the freedom to write about things that are very close to my heart: kindness, love and what my publisher calls the eternal aspect of life and love.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

It depends on whether I am writing fiction or non-fiction. Some books stay in my head for a long time before they come out on paper. I have writing bouts where I begin my days with writing and don’t stop until the last chapter as I don’t like leaving anything unfinished. If I am writing poetry, I go out of doors, sit in a cafe or sit by the boats alone for hours.

Who are your favorite authors?

Moris Farhi, Hugh McLellan, Ben Okri, Robin Ngangom, Tim Winton, Astrid Lindgren, Graham Cooke, Max Lucado, Michael Leunig, etc.

What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.

It would probably be MARI, a book on the Second World War and the Japanese Invasion of India via the Naga Hills. I used my aunt Mari’s diary and her memories and my mother’s memories to reconstruct the Kohima town as they knew it 60 odd years ago. Reconstructing historical events and details is both challenging and fascinating.

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What to prepare for when you’re expecting one of Murakami’s mammoths

By Daniel Morales

Haruki Murakami has put scientists to shame. Harvard geneticists recently announced that they are two years away from bringing the wooly mammoth back from extinction, while Murakami is releasing his latest mammoth tonight: His novel “Kishidancho Goroshi” will be published in two 500-page volumes via Shinchosha and given the English title “Killing Commendatore,” according to the publisher’s website.

Shinchosha has highlighted the fact that this is the 68-year-old Murakami’s first honkakuteki (“full-fledged”) novel in seven years since 2009’s “1Q84,” although he has kept busy in the interim. Murakami published the shorter “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” in 2013 with publisher Bungeishunju, and a collection of short stories titled “Men Without Women” in 2014, so he likely put his most recent work together in three short years.

What should readers be expecting with this new release? Ever since spoilers leaked for 2002’s “Kafka on the Shore,” Murakami has kept plot details a tight secret, but as a writer he has several tendencies. Read more

Source: The Japan Times


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Next month’s Script Road literary festival in Macau set to be biggest yet

By Liana Cafolla

Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author Madeleine Thien and acclaimed Korean-American writer Krys Lee are among more than 60 influential literary figures attending The Script Road this year, Macau’s literary festival, making it the biggest since the event was launched in 2012.

Getting bigger was not intentional, says the festival’s programme director and co-founder, Hélder Beja. Last year’s festival turned out to be almost bigger than the festival team could manage and the plan was for the 2017 edition to be smaller. But with more writers asking to attend this year, it just didn’t turn out that way. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post

 


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India: Pakistan writers not invited for South Asian Lit Festival

New Delhi, Feb 23:  The three-day South Asian Literature festival, which begins tomorrow, will not feature writers from Pakistan this year. The literature festival is being organised by the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) at the India International Centre here. “We did not get permission from the authorities to invite delegates from Pakistan,” FOSWAL Founder and President Ajeet Cour told PTI.

Based on the theme of ‘Beyond Borders’ and ‘Endeavoring for peace and tranquility in the region’, the festival will see participation from the other eight SAARC countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Malaysia and India among others. Cour said the festival this year will feature more delegates and writers than its previous editions. Read more

Source: India.com

 


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Excerpts: Women at War by Vera Hildebrand

women-at-warSINGAPORE – THE RANIS PREPARE FOR WAR

In the fall of 1943, young women began to enlist in the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army in Singapore and in Rangoon. The RJR needed a base camp in Singapore, a facility that would provide secure lodging for the female soldiers as well as sufficient space outdoors for military training.To the Japanese military authorities, female infantry was a preposterous waste of money and when they learned of Bose’s idea, they protested. Regarding the RJR, the Japanese officers found it completely incomprehensible that Bose would allocate precious ordnance and rations to women.

One way the Japanese sought to prevent the creation of the Regiment was their unwillingness to allocate real estate in Singapore for the training of women for combat. The Japanese administration refused every abandoned property that Captain Lakshmi found and proposed as possible housing for the RJR. In the end, the Ranis did receive quarters, weapons, uniforms and training, but the cost of the RJR was borne entirely by donations from Indians living in Burma, Singapore and Malaya to the Azad Hind government, while the Japanese government financed only the male forces of the INA.

The chairman of the Singapore branch of the Indian Independence League, Attavar Yellappa, a barrister, consequently took upon himself the task of finding a home for the Regiment. He persuaded some of his wealthy Nattukottai Chettiar banker clients to fund the refurbishment of a dilapidated building, formerly serving as a refugee camp and currently belonging to the IIL. The property was enclosed with a high fence to shield the female soldiers from the curious eyes of Singapore citizens, and several new barracks were erected.The standing buildings were fitted with new plumbing, and bathing facilities were installed. After three weeks of around-the-clock activity, the Singapore Central Camp, the Ranis’ first training centre, was almost ready for the first contingent of volunteers to move in on the birth anniversary of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi.

In his inaugural speech at the RJR training camp on Waterloo Street in Singapore on 22 October 1943, Bose welcomed‘the first one hundred and fifty women’ who had moved in the evening before.

The opening of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment Training Camp is an important and significant function; it is a very important landmark in the progress of our movement in East Asia.To realize its importance, you should bear in mind that ours is not a merely political movement.We are, on the other hand, engaged in the great task of regenerating our Nation. We are, in fact, ushering in a New Life for the Indian Nation, and it is necessary that our New Life should be built on sound foundations. Remember that ours is not a propaganda stunt; we are in fact witnessing the re-birth of India. And it is only in the fitness of things that there should be a stir of New Life among our womenfolk.

Bose went on:

Since 1928, I have been taking interest in women’s organizations in India and I found that, given the opportunity, our sisters could rise to any occasion. … If one type of courage is necessary for passive resistance, another and more active courage is necessary for revolutionary efforts, and in this too, I found that our sisters were not wanting. … Unfortunately, Jhansi Rani was defeated; it was not her defeat; it was the defeat of India.

She died but her spirit can never die. India can once again produce Jhansi Ranis and march on to victory.

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Endeavouring for peace in South Asia through literature

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) A literature festival is all set to bring artists from South Asia — sans Pakistan — together, aiming to endeavour for peace in the region.

The South Asian Literature Festival will be organised by the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) from February 24 to February 26 at the India International Centre here.

The 30th edition of the festival will revolve around the themes of “Beyond Borders” and “Endeavouring for Peace and Tranquillity in the Region”. Read more

Source: Yahoo News


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How this Pakistani cop-turned-author’s books are inspired by real-life crimes

By Adila Matra

Pakistani crime writer Omar Shahid Hamid comes with a lot of know-how of the criminal world. He has been a police officer in Pakistan for 16 years and a senior member of Karachi police’s Counter Terrorism Department. And that familiarity, paired with a knack for words, translate on to the pages of his books.

The Prisoner was the first book that was born out of his five-year sabbatical from the force, and held uncanny resemblances to the underbelly of Karachi–the policemen, politicians and gangsters included. Another book later, Hamid is back with the same grit and a more complex, bone-chilling plot in The Party Worker. Read more

Source: India Today