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The Vietnam War Then and Now

On Sept. 17 PBS begins airing Ken Burns’s new 10-part Vietnam War documentary, co-directed by Lynn Novick and written by Geoffrey C. Ward, Burns’s longtime collaborator. Although Burns’s team has produced many epic histories — on jazz, baseball, the American West — his 1990 Civil War series made him into the nation’s most laureled documentarian. Clocking in at 18 hours, “The Vietnam War” is Burns’s most anticipated work since that magisterial feat.

As before, Ward has written a weighty companion book to the series. “The Vietnam War: An Intimate History” tells once again the painful tale of America’s protracted, divisive and (most would now agree) futile involvement in the fight to keep South Vietnam unconquered by the Communist North. After filling in the historical background, the book ranges over two decades, from Dien Bien Phu in 1954, when the French left their former colony in defeat, to the 1975 fall of Saigon, when the United States left. It’s all here: the Gulf of Tonkin and the Tet offensive, the Perfume River and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, napalm and draft notices and teach-ins and My Lai, P.O.W.s and fragging and Kent State and the Christmas bombing, and much more.

Numerous historians, of course, have already written exemplary histories of the war. To distinguish this book, Burns and Novick, in their introduction, proclaim their intention to do what few have done: recount the war from not just the American viewpoint but from that of the North and South Vietnamese too.

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Victims of genocide or victims of history: 10 facts you did not know about the Rohingya crisis and the roasting of Aung Sang Suu Kyi


A profoundly ignorant chorus of denunciation has descended upon Aung Sang Suu Kyi over the treatment of the Rohingyas — while ignoring the historical baggage of colonial policies that created this tragic conundrum. And critics ignore the role of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which mounted coordinated attacks on police stations, army posts and civilian targets in November 2016 and August 2017. Here are some facts for your to consider:

1. It all goes back to the 1932 election in Burma (then part of British India); the Brits wanted to separate Burmese from India, and propped up the Separatist League, but the Anti-Separatists (led by Ba Maw) won. They wanted to remain loosely federated with India. Nonetheless Burma was separated from India in 1935. When Ba Maw won the next election too in 1937, the British policies of Divide and Rule were stepped up — and led to anti-Indian rioting in 1938 in Rangoon (after the Brits imprisoned Ba Maw for seeking Japanese support for his campaign of full independence from the Brits).

2. When Japan liberated Burma in March 1942, Ba Maw was restored to power (formally becoming Prime Minister or Adipati in August 1943), with Aung San as his DPM and Defence minister. The British had ensured that the British Burma Army contained no Burmese (instead comprising Karen, Kachins, Shans and Chins) while the bureaucracy contained mainly Anglo-Burmans and Indians. The majority Bamars only got opportunities in the military and bureaucracy in alliance with the Japanese.  Continue reading


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Chinese, Japanese literature experts exchange thoughts in east China

Literature experts as well as descendants of two famous Asian writers met in east China to boost friendly communication between China and Japan.

Descendants of late Chinese writer Lu Xun and late Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki, talked about the influence of both men on literature Monday in a seminar at Shaoxing University in Zhejiang Province. Lu Xun was born in the city of Shaoxing.

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Jharkhand Bans Sahitya Akademi-Winning Author’s Book for ‘Negative’ Portrayal of Santhals

HansaAuthor Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar had earlier said he was facing intense online abuse, with a group of Adivasis had taken out a protest against him, burning his effigy and books.

The Jharkhand government has banned a collection of short stories released in 2015, The Adivasi Will Not Dance, on the grounds that it portrayed the Santhal community, particularly women, in a ‘bad light’, the Telegraph reported.

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, the author of the book, won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puruskar in 2015 for his novel The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey.

Chief minister Raghubar Das on Friday (August 11) evening asked chief secretary Rajbala Verma to seize all available copies of the book and initiate legal proceeding against the author, the newspaper’s report said. The matter was brought up in parliament on Friday morning by opposition MLA Sita Soren, from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, who said the book was derogatory to Santhal women, after which the leader of the opposition in the assembly Hemanta Soren asked that the book be banned.

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South Side Stories: Long list of DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017

Past winners of the DSC Prize include HM Naqvi of Pakistan, Shehan Karunatilaka of Sri Lanka, Jeet Thayil and Cyrus Mistry from India. Jhumpa Lahiri won it in 2015 for The Lowland. Last year, the winner of the prize was Anuradha Roy for her book Sleeping on Jupiter. 

The long list for the coveted DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 was announced by writer, publisher and chair of the jury panel, Ritu Menon, at Delhi’s Oxford Bookstore on Thursday. The list comprises 13 novels, written by authors of four nationalities. It includes seven writers from India, three from Pakistan, two from Sri Lanka and one American writer based in India. Some of the books that have made it to the list include Aravind Adiga’s Selection Day (pictured), Karan Mahajan’s The Associations of Small Bombs, Perumal Murugan’s Pyre (pictured), Pakistani author Omar Shahid Hamid’s The Party Worker, Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage, Anjali Joseph’s The Living, Ashok Ferrey’s The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons (pictured), among others. The prize is worth US $25,000 and is open to authors writing about South Asia and its people. The long list for the coveted DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 was announced by writer, publisher and chair of the jury panel, Ritu Menon, at Delhi’s Oxford Bookstore on Thursday.

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Arundhati Roy’s new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, draws mixed reviews

arundhati_royFT has described Arundhati Roy’s second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, as “Compelling”.

“Ultimately, Roy’s admirers will not be disappointed,” writes Claire Messud in her FT review. “This ambitious new novel, like its predecessor, addresses weighty themes in an intermittently playful narrative voice. Whereas The God of Small Things — the tale of Rahel and Esthappen, a pair of twins, and their family’s tra­gedies in Kerala, southern India — approaches big issues such as caste divisions and molestation through the personal and domestic, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness embarks from the outset with a broader societal perspect­ive.”

“Now, finally, the second novel has come out, and it is clear that her politics have been part of its gestation,” writes Joan Acocella in the New Yorker. ““The God of Small Things” was about one family, primarily in the nineteen-sixties, and though it included some terrible events, its sorrows were private, muffled, personal. By contrast, “The Ministry of the Utmost Happiness” is about India, the polity, during the past half century or so, and its griefs are national. This does not mean that Roy’s powers are stretched thin, or even that their character has changed. In the new book, as in the earlier one, what is so remarkable is her combinatory genius.” Continue reading


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The lesser society reads, the safer writers are: Mustansar Hussain Tarar

Tarar is perhaps the most popular of contemporary fiction and travelogue writers in Urdu. He claims he has the capability to write another Aag Ka Darya, a novel on the Partition written by Qurratulain Hyder, but she could not have written a novel like his Bahao that talks about the disappearance of a civilisation.

Tarar’s mass popularity is perhaps the reason why he keeps distinguishing himself from other Pakistani writers. No other Pakistani writer has been honoured like him, he says: a lake in the northern areas has been named after him. But, in the same breath, he says critics need to pay attention to other contemporary fiction writers, particularly Khalida Hussain and Sami Ahuja.

Source: The Herald


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Sequoia Capital, Perfect World co-invest in Chinese literature site Zongheng

Sequoia Capital China, and Perfect World co-led a new round of financing in Zongheng, a Chinese literature site that provides vertical and horizontal literature contents.

The site is owned by Beijing-based Network Technology Co Ltd. Sheng King Fund, Guonong brothers, Shegjing360, Share Capital, and several institutions also participated in the strategic investment. The size of the deal was undisclosed.

Founded in 2008, Zongheng is a domestic Chinese original literary professional website. It serves as a cultural platform meant to guide the master writers and epic works.

Source: Dealstreetasia.com


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Book Review: The Never Mind Girl and Other Stories by Rosmarie Somaiah

By Mehjabeen Aladdin

rosemarieTitle: The Never Mind Girl and Other Stories
Author: Rosmarie Somaiah
Publisher: Ethos Books Singapore
Pages: 104
Price: $ 16.00 SGD
Rosmarie Somaiah’s The Never Mind Girl and Other Stories is a collection of 15 short stories written in a contemporary style, depicting realistic and actual scenarios and situations that most young adult females go through in Singapore during their secondary school years in an all girls’ school.

The main character in the book is a teenage girl called Anna whose life is surrounded by her family consisting of her mother, father, sister and two younger brothers. Somaiah writes about the different challenges and obstacles that Anna, along with her sister, have to face at school in terms of peer pressure, self esteem, tests of loyalty and friendship, striving for academic excellence, making big decisions and generally trying to fit into a society that has various other demands. Somaiah has efficiently laid out a specific scenario under each story involving the input and role play of various other characters who help Anna make her decisions and conclusions, thus leaving a “lesson learned” for the reader who might find the story relatable. In the early chapters, Anna uses the term “never mind” frequently until she is baptized as “The Never Mind Girl” by one of her colleagues at school. “I am not the never mind girl! I do care about things!” she retorts in an outburst to her mother when she is overcome with emotions and the tension to fit in.

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China to guide the development of online literature

By Xinhua

The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has asked the China Writers Association (CWA) to guide online literature and carry out other reforms.

According to a plan to deepen reform of the CWA issued by the office on Thursday, CWA should establish evaluation and incentive systems that will benefit the development of online literature.

The Party’s role in literature work should also be strengthened. For instance, the Party should guide and support works focusing on juveniles and patriotism, as well as realistic and historical topics.

In the meantime, the CWA should organize literature exchange programs among Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and provide more communication opportunities between Chinese and foreign writers. Read more

Source: China Daily