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The Kites Are Leaving

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My children live in the Lahore compound where I spent much of my own childhood, the fourth generation of my family to do so, with members of three of these generations presently alive and resident, including my parents, who built a house on part of the front lawn three decades ago, and my wife and me, who live in the old house, which was constructed three decades earlier. When I was a child, Lahore was home to three million people, and our neighborhood was a leafy, grassy expanse speckled with bungalows. Now Lahore is home to three times as many people, and our nearest neighbors are shopping malls, restaurants, apartment buildings, offices — crammed close together, with little green.

The flying foxes are gone, snakes are rarely to be seen, a mongoose glimpsed only once or twice a year, slipping into the round opening of a drain. We have two dogs, though, and chickens, and we have let our trees grow full and mighty, to block out the concrete structures pressing in on us, and high on one tall tree in our back lawn, far above the treehouse wrapped around lower branches near its base, floats a nest that belongs to a pair of birds of prey that my children call hawks but are in actuality black kites: brown with light and dark markings the color of parched earth and damp soil, patterns like scale armor on their breasts, powerful, hooked beaks and wingspans wide enough to startle, almost equal to the outstretched arms of a man. Read more

Source: New York Times


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Beyond a ‘Colourful’ India: The Struggles of British Asian Writers

By Anjana Parikh

A debate has been raging amongst the British Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) writers for some time now.

The debate stems from their struggle to get their works published.

What is the crux of the issue? Many writers feel that publishers are afraid to market and publish their work – and that, they aren’t too aware of the fact that there’s a market for the kind of fiction these writers write.

The Fight for Diversity

Nilesh Shukla, whose debut novel Coconut Unlimited was published by Quartet Books, has been particularly vocal about the need for diversity in UK’s publishing industry.

For me, the fight for diversity in the UK publishing industry has just begun – although it existed long before.

Shukla’s novel The Good Immigrant was crowd funded by its publisher in just three days. Read more

Source: The Quint


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Indian authors writing in English language

By Ankita Ghosh

While we were busy reading mostly American and European authors to satiate our hunger for novels written in the English language, a quiet and cautious breed of writers were steadily reinventing the idea of English language novels for us, here in the heartland of the subcontinent.

These writers came to be loosely known as ‘Indian authors writing in English language’. As the 21st century progressed and our desperate need to be readily anglicized was reversed by the chronic desire to be homebound, more and more people began reading them and soon they became a phenomenon.
These authors usually fall into two distinct categories. The first category of authors is headed by Chetan Bhagat, Ravinder Singh, Manju Kapur, Anuja Chauhan and the likes. They have equally been loved and loathed. The middle class that was reluctantly welcoming English into their households, loved them as they spoke of a transitioning India and wrote about its average citizens. Read more
Source: Meri News


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How English soaks up words from other languages

By Martin Rubin

MAY WE BORROW YOUR LANGUAGE: HOW ENGLISH HAS STOLEN, PURLOINED, SNAFFLED, PILFERED, APPROPRIATED AND LOOTED WORDS FROM ALL CORNERS OF THE WORLD

By Philip Gooden

Head of Zeus/IPG, $24.95, 359 pages

For many people across the world, the dominant role of English has been a problem. Back in the 1960s, President Charles de Gaulle was so concerned that French was being contaminated by such an infusion from across the Channel, that he fought a largely unsuccessful rear-guard action against what was known as “Franglais.” If words like “le weekend” or sound-alikes like “rosbif” instead of the correct French words “boeuf roti” were unstoppable, the words engendered by the American computer-related technologies of the late-20th and early-21st century only made for a truly global tidal wave. Yet even here, there is cross-pollination rather than one-way traffic. Consider the French word menu, long a staple in English food terminology, which now has a whole new connotation.

Rather than focus on the back-and-forth dynamic between languages, British author Philip Gooden has chosen to concentrate on the English language as a sponge that soaks up foreign words from many languages, a list of which he usefully provides. His book is organized charmingly as well as practically, providing in chronological order a multitude of foreign words purloined and then firmly ensconced in our language. His justification for this is characteristically humorous as well learned:

” ‘Good artists copy; great artists steal,’ Picasso said or is supposed to have said. English is a great language by any reckoning, and so it must also be reckoned as more of a thief than a copier yet to steal words from a language does not deprive that language of its own words; rather it is to share the original expressions more widely, in the process often giving them a different spelling, another shape and perhaps a meaning that has strayed some distance from the one in the source. English is adept at this. The language is a great borrower, a practiced thief.” Read more

Source: Washington Times


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When Jibanananda translated his own poems

By Abdus Selim

There are perhaps innumerable examples of poets translating their own poems in the realm of literature, but what I am focused on in this brief writeup is sketching the trends in Jibanananda Das’s translations of his own poems. We all know the first most successful poetry translator of this subcontinent happens to be none other than Rabindranath Tagore, for, his renderings of his own poems into English brought him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. But of course no such thing happened to Jibanananda Das.

The English translation of four poems, “If I Were” (Jodi aami hotem), “O Kite” (Hai chil), “Banalata Sen” (Banalata Sen), and “Meditations” (Manosharani) came out in the anthology titled Modern Bengali Poems in 1945. All four of them were translated by the poet himself. Abhijeet Roy comments on Jibannanda’s translation in his lecture that he delivered at The Open University, UK, “Jibanananda as the translator of his own poem . . . was anxious to retain his lifetime obsession with the meaning of human history in the context of an unfathomable universe.” The poet himself held that, “Poetry and life are two different outpourings of the same thing; life as we usually conceive it contains what we normally accept as reality, but the spectacle of this incoherent and disorderly life can satisfy neither the poet’s talent nor the reader’s imagination . . . poetry does not contain a complete reconstruction of what we call reality; we have entered a new world.” This mysterious new world referred to by Jibanananda Das was perhaps the anxiety and obsession for retaining the meaning of human history in the context of an unfathomable universe, that Abhijeet has tried to imply. Read more

Source: Dhaka Tribune

 


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What first short stories smuggled out of North Korea say about life in the hermit state, and their challenges for a translator

It’s not reportage but fiction, written not by a defector but by a writer still living and working in North Korea – the necessarily pseudonymous Bandi. The Accusation is a first for publishing, and also a first for me. As a translator I’ve specialised in fiction, and other books I’ve worked on have been political in their aims and impact – most notably Han Kang’s Human Acts, which focuses on the 1980 Gwangju massacre. But none have had such an obviously polemical intent as The Accusation.

Whenever we translate from a language or literature not yet widely represented in English, the danger is that what was intended as art will be reduced to anthropology. With a country as little known as North Korea, the sociological reading will be impossible to ignore, though the fact of The Accusation’s historicity can at least encourage a broader view: the seven stories that make up the collection are dated from 1989 to 1993, in the last years of Kim Il-sung’s rule. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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India: N E poets misunderstood for their poetry of conflict: Ngangom

New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI) Eminent Manipuri poet Robin S Ngangom believes it is wrong to typecast the poets from North East as unduly obsessed with the poetry of “politics” and “brutality”.

Ngangom, who writes in English and Meitei, says some poets have moved beyond merely recording the events of insurgency.

“There is often this charge made that the poets of North East are unduly obsessed with the poetry of politics and brutality.

“But few fine poets have moved beyond merely recording events and have internalised the complex conflict between themselves and the social environment,” Ngangom said during the inaugural session of North-East and Northern Writers’ Meet.

He said the poets in Manipur often have to take the risk of writing as a witness to the political violence in the region. Read more

Source:India.com


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Can Rushdie and Roy save the novel in the age of Trump and Modi?

By Angshukanta Chakraborty

2017 comes bearing gifts.

At a time when the United States stands “unpresidented” and Donald Trump is unable to string a simple sentence together without committing grave factual or lexical errors, we have the return of Arundhati Roy, the novelist, and Salman Rushdie, with his grand American book about a family of Indian immigrants.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Roy and The Golden House by Rushdie are easily the most anticipated works of literary fiction to be published this year. This, at a time when literature itself is at its most disavowed, when language, under the barrage of social media, is increasingly failing to convey the shifts and churns posed by technology and politics, and the past is coagulating into imagined purity that prescribes exclusionism as the cure – is a source of hope. Read more

Source: DailyO


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On writing women

By Bina Shah

In researching my previous column on the work of Elena Ferrante, I read how certain critics were convinced that the author was actually a man writing under a woman’s pseudonym because she wrote assertively and confidently about the domains of men, especially politics, crime, and violence. In return, Ferrante’s supporters asserted that not only could a woman write well about these domains, but that “only a woman” could know of the secret interior worlds of women and write about them as truthfully and authentically as Ferrante.

Is it possible for a male writer to do the reverse, and describe the life and mind of a female character as well as women writers must do when writing about men? A consensus has emerged amongst women readers and feminist critics of literature that many male writers have not felt obligated to create female characters who are as complex, well-rounded, and three-dimensional as the men. Read more

Source: Dawn


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Our political fictions

By Sarah Humayun

I have seen lines from Faiz’s poem Nisar main teri galiyon ke quoted to give voice to the helplessness of some who are protesting the abductions. But, in that poem, even though the speaker watches out furtively for his body and life — nazar churaā ke chale jism o jaañ bachaā ke chale — he sounds sure of speaking to others like himself from this side of the bars. It’s a hopeful song of imprisonment, seeing its own condition as one of separation from the romanticised watan whose evenings and mornings he continues to decipher and imagine — chamak uThe haiñ salasil to ham ne jaanaā hai — from the darkening and illumination of his prison cell. There is a connection between the other world and his prison netherworld, and his ‘ahd-e-vafaā, keeping of faith, sounds sure of being heard in that other world.

The confidence of being heard, in its fear and hope, is what I hear in the poem.

Salman Haider’s chilling words in Safhe se Baher Ek Nazm are completely outside the frame of this redeeming prisonhouse. Unfathomable distance away from Faiz’s words, he speaks not of stealing away his body in fear like his compatriots who observe the custom of the land, but of disappearing like others, like others becoming a file that will be taken to court, or a photograph that his son will kiss for the journalist’s benefit, or the silence his wife will wear.  Read more

Source: The News On Sunday