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New Release: Mrs C Remembers by Himanjali Sankar

mrs cThis June Pan Macmillan India will release Himanjali Sankar’s Mrs C Remembers, a piercing exploration of the limits of submission, of illness and upheaval and the unfathomable powers of the human mind.

Mrs Anita Chatterjee, wife to one of Kolkata’s most successful men, has lived a bustling life managing her husband’s large household and mingling regularly with the rich and powerful. Now, after forty years of a life of unquestioned compliance, the only thing she can do is try to forget.

Her daughter, Sohini, is an artist living in Delhi with an unconventional partner. As Mrs C begins to engage with their ideas, she finds she can no longer ignore the tumultuous world outside. Soon she is diagnosed with a formidable medical condition, one that will allow her to let down her guard and come into her own.

About the Author:

Himanjali Sankar grew up in Kolkata. She studied English Literature at JNU, New Delhi and taught English at the University of Indianapolis in the US. She has worked with various publishing houses and is currently an editor with Bloomsbury India. Two of her books, The Stupendous Time telling Superdog and Talking of Muskaan, were shortlisted for the Crossword Award for Children’s Literature. Mrs C Remembers is her first novel for adults.


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The success of mass market fiction is changing the rules of Indian publishing: Here’s how

By Kanishka Gupta

The last few years have witnessed a deluge of mass market writers in India: Ravinder Singh, Durjoy Datta, Sudeep Nagarkar and more recently, Savi Sharma and Ajay K Pandey. While many people attribute this trend to the unprecedented success of Chetan Bhagat’s debut novel Five Point Someone, others say that it is because of the country’s ever expanding young, aspiring reader base, which has an insatiable appetite for these light, undemanding reads.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that this brand of writing has completely changed the different aspects of publishing, be it commissioning, retail or marketing. Editors no longer acquire books in isolation or on the basis of their individual tastes, but in close consultation with a sales team.

“Until Neilsen arrived in India, very few people were aware of the mass market phenomenon that was going on. The communication channels between sales and editorial were also not that great,” Sachin Garg, a bestselling writer and publisher of Grapevine books told me. In fact, distributors only started taking Grapevine seriously once their author Durjoy Datta’s book debuted at number 3 on the Neilsen Charts. ‘The sales figure of a book started being used as a metric for acquisitions and books were acquired for reasons other than the traditional reason of it being a well told story from the editor’s POV,’ says Anish Chandy of Juggernaut Books. Read more

Source: First Post 


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“For me literary success would be when readers carry me in their memories forever, in the form of my books, characters, stories or messages” Dr. Manjiri Prabhu

By Monideepa Sahu

Manjiri Prabhu014

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

I write because I imagine, dream, feel, love and reciprocate.

And because I have a story to extract from my interactions, from my emotions, whether in imagination or reality and turn it into a fictitious reality.

I want to create a world of my own and enjoy the trials and tribulations of the journey and finally when it is done, sit back and let the world see my creation.

I write because I want to create memories, because I want to learn, explore and live many lives and travel with many characters to lands known and unknown. To feel fulfilled, to remind myself how blessed I am. . . .

I write because that’s what I can do . . . …and love to do!

What advice would you give your younger writing self?

First and foremost, I would tell my younger self that she was right. That feeling that she had all along as a child that she was born to be a writer was completely justified. I would like to congratulate her on her success and persistence. As advice I would tell her to be ready for challenges, be patient and learn to take rejections as opportunities to do better. I would tell her to be more competitive in today’s world and go all out and shout out her achievements. I would tell her to go wild, travel more, love more, absorb more and create more. I would tell her to be more in touch with reality as well as fantasy, experiment more and get out of her comfort zone of writing. I would just want her to live every moment to the fullest so that writing would come inspired, faster and better.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

As a child I wrote for myself, content in the art of creation and heedless to public consumption.  As I grew older, I realized that it wouldn’t matter if someone read my work. In fact it would be great if others did. That’s when I published my first novel ‘A Symphony of Hearts’ in 1994.

Over the years, I’ve written and published books, and the need to reach out to more and more readers has increased. Mostly because publishing a book takes it out of your inner, controlled circle and exhibits it to a world of readers with varied views, opinions and backgrounds. Great feedback from readers is one of the biggest rewards of writing!

The equation of writing for ‘self’has now changed to writing for ‘us’ – for my readers and I. I still create plots that excite me and characters that speak to me but they carry a vision that I want readers to grasp and understand and emulate.

So publishing my book hasn’t changed so much the process of writing, as the need for visibility and exposure to it. Now marketing and promotion also take a big chunk of my time and attention.

What was your greatest writing challenge?

Actually, each of my books has posed a challenge. The Cosmic Clues and The Astral Alibi or Stellar Signs were about a lady detective who solves cases with the help of Astrology. So a lot of research went into choosing the right plots and solving them using Astrology in a systematic scientific manner, and not as a superstitious, magic wand. Similarly, The Cavansite Conspiracy takes place in 48 hours and the protagonist travels from Pune, to Hamburg, to the Isle of Sylt and to London in a matter of so many hours. Matching the time-differences and flight timings was a huge challenge. Finally, my latest thriller The Trail of Four takes place entirely in Salzburg and is about non-Indian characters, taking Re, the investigative journalist on a trail set 75 years ago. The biggest challenge was writing the novel like an insider, and combining history with a contemporary plotline. Having said that, I have enjoyed writing each of these novels.

What’s your idea of literary success?

I write so that people will read, enjoy the product of my imagination and take away something from it. When books sell, the monetary gain enables you to be at peace to write some more. So it helps. It is practical. But I would like to go beyond this materialistic gain . . . to grasp and capture something that is more ephemeral and transient. Memories. For me literary success would be when readers carry me in their memories forever, in the form of my books, characters, stories or messages. When I freeze into their memories, I would feel that I have touched that peak of success as an author and have attained virtual immortality.

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Conflict is everything, says Jaina Sanga

By Somudra Banerjee

At the age of 18, author Jaina Sanga left her home in Bombay (Mumbai) to study in the US. Although she stays in Dallas, through her books — a novel, a book of short stories and her latest, a collection of two novellas — she is always reflecting on the country that she loves to visit every year. “India is constantly in my imagination. All the fiction that I’ve written thus far is set in India. In as much as I try to dismiss India from my thoughts, the spirit of the place keeps asserting itself onto the page,” Jaina opens up.

Tourist Season, her latest, is a duet of novellas. The first follows the story of Ramchander, a small-time shopkeeper in a Himalayan hill station. While the second The River is set in Benares, where Girnar, a professor of Hindu mythology from Ahmedabad, ends up accompanying his family for a trip to the ancient land. Read more

Source: The Asian Age


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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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Excerpts: Dvarca by Madhav Mathur

2-dvarca-cover

Chicken & Egg

Jyoti was fast asleep in their bedroom. Baba was out for his night-shift and the children lay still, contorted and bent away from each other like the hands of a clock. It was ten- to-five. Gandharva shut Mira’s mouth and stopped Nakul from sucking his thumb. He watched them for a moment, before carrying on.

He didn’t want to risk waking Jyoti by using the toilet attached to their room and decided to use the small common toilet next to the kitchen to clean up. Rain had found a way to bounce off the window-shutters and wet everything from the lights to the floor. He looked at himself in the mirror. He was still wrapped in the foul-smelling cloth from the street. It had saved his life. He took it off and flipped it around to fold it away. His face went deathly pale when he saw the other side of his new found vestment. Something was written on the cloth. He leaned in close and read the words. They looked like scratches after a desperate fight.

‘WHAT CAME FIRST? POLITICS OR RELIGION?’

How could he have been so careless? How did he end up with a cloth that clearly came from the pariahs? He crumpled it into a ball. He panicked and splashed his face with water to make sure it wasn’t some sort of lurid Vision. Had he been seen with it? Would they believe that he had nothing to do with it?

He tried to wash off the unholy letters but they were stitched on. He looked around frantically for a way to get rid of the cloth. He could not burn it on the stove, all gas supplies were switched off after 10:00 p.m. for energy conservation. He could not carry it out and throw it away; it was too risky. He tried to flush the ball down the toilet, but it was too big. There was nothing in the bathroom of use, just some of Baba’s toiletries.

Gandharva rushed out to the kitchen and found one of Jyoti’s scissors. He hurtled back into the bathroom and pulled the door shut. He lowered the toilet seat-cover and sat down to cut the cloth into smaller pieces. The scissors had thick, blunt blades. He made some headway with them and then decided to rip the cloth with his hands. He was no Nakul or Arjun, but he tried his best.

“DETECTION: ELEVATION IN VITAL RATES. PLEASE REPORT.”

The veins of his forehead popped out like new hill ranges after a deep seismic disturbance. He quickly responded with the first thing that came to his flustered mind.

“Stomach upset. Recovering.”

He sat atop the commode with the stinking shawl in his hands. There were words stitched all over it. Some portions of the writing were illegible because of the indelible grease stains. He read a sentence.

‘YOU’VE FALLEN FOR THE OLDEST TRICK. THEY KNOW WHAT YOU WILL DO, BEFORE YOU DO IT. THEY’VE DRAWN LINES IN THE SKY AND LINES IN THE SAND, TO MARK GOD AND COUNTRY.’

Who were they addressing? Who was speaking? Why?

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Kiran Doshi wins ‘The Hindu Prize 2016’

Kiran Doshi, a retired diplomat and educationist from Gujarat, won The Hindu Prize 2016 on Sunday for his third major work of fiction, Jinnah Often Came to Our House, a book set against the political turmoil of the subcontinent from the early part of the 20th century, ending with the Partition and Independence.

Mr. Doshi was among the five authors shortlisted from nearly 60 entries for the seventh edition of the prize. The shortlisted works included Anil Menon’s Half Of What I Say, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s The Adivasi Will Not Dance, Kunal Basu’s Kalkatta and Manjula Padmanabhan’s The Island of Lost Girls.

K. Satchidanandan, a member of the jury, pointed to the manner in which Jinnah Often Came to Our House, with its “unbiased wisdom, corrects all kinds of prejudices about political leaders and religious communities.” Read more

Source: The Hindu


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Excerpts: Amba: The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak

amba

The Third Man

When a woman wavers between two men—the one she didn’t get and the one who didn’t get her—she usually encounters a third. This is how the third man came into Amba Kinanti’s life and how his story should be told.

*

For Amba it started with dreams both foul and fair.

In the days following Bhisma’s disappearance, her heart sick with sorrow, Amba started having vivid dreams. Maudlin, abusive nightmares with baby-burning witches and gods with deformed cocks. Nostalgic images of Kadipura, of her parents and her sisters and her corner on the porch where they took their tea in the afternoons, the lakeside where her father and she often sat, her father opening The Mahabharata.

Once, Bhisma and Salwa appeared together in her dream, as the book dictated. But instead of taking up arms and hacking at each other, they were sitting down under a vast banyan tree, the way warriors always do, talking about great revolutions and ideas that would transform the world. Meanwhile, she was peering at them from behind another tree, eavesdropping. She could hear every word. The Amba of this dream looked sad, disheveled, and old, and her purpose was vindictive: to aim her arrow at Salwa’s heart. She would wait for the right time and kill Salwa first and then herself, and then the gods could have a field day blaming one another for the loss of a very important thread in their celestial narrative. She, Amba, would be the noble princess who exited the world so that Bhisma, the ultimate warrior-healer, the man who saved lives, would prevail. Because he must. She was going to take Salwa with her to end his suffering in the world, his and Bhisma’s, from everything that she had done.

Suddenly, in the dream, she saw Bhisma lean toward Salwa, the man who was supposed to be his rival, his fiercest foe, and say, ‘She doesn’t know it yet, but I must leave her. I must leave so she will have a future.’

The horror of that dream had woken her. The horror of how in the dream Amba, on hearing those words, had changed her aim in a sick split instant, and the desolate sound of Bhisma’s groan before his body hit the earth.

Some nightmares were grimmer. In one she saw her father dashing through the dust in a smoky battlefield, amid the ringing sound of gunfire and the swish of arrows, soldiers screaming and falling around him. He had in his trembling hands an open page from The Mahabharata, something he seemed to want to get rid of but couldn’t. Soon a naked woman who looked like Rinjani, a perfection of limbs and breasts, appeared. She began to devour soldiers, both dead and alive.

In another, Bhisma and Salwa appeared in her room, their faces dewy and transformed by lust. They offered to take turns fucking her. ‘Why not?’ they said when she protested. ‘Won’t it be fun?’

*

After the chaos at Untarto’s funeral and Amba’s sick moment of realization that Bhisma was not with her in the courtyard, she swallowed her fear and frantically began looking for him.

The streets had almost emptied. No one wanted to be part of more trouble. Yet she went around anyway, asking each person she saw if they knew, or had seen, Dr. Rashad, describing his appearance. Each time she was met with a shaken head, a blank stare.

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China: 2016 works worth reading

By Mei Jia

The Paper Republic website, which promotes contemporary Chinese writing to the English-language world, has just put out its latest list. Now in its fifth year, the list offers readers a wide range of choices. “This year’s list is longer than ever, and several books have won international prizes,” says Nicky Harman, a UK-based prize-winning literary translator, who prepared the list. At a glance, there are names of writers of fiction, sci-fi writers, online works, poetry and children’s literature, all translated and published in English in 2016. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Have you written a children’s story inspired by Asia?

The Scholastic Asian Book Award (Saba) is a joint initiative between the National Book Development Council of Singapore and publishers Scholastic Asia that “will recognise children’s writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit, and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large”.

Since its inception in 2011, the biennial award has been responsible for publishing English language works by authors from all over Asia, including India, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The best manuscript wins S$10,000 (RM31,000) and will be considered by Scholastic Asia for publication; the authors of the first and second runners-up manuscripts will be offered advice by Scholastic Asia on editing and submitting their works for publication. Read more

Source: Star2.com