Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘The writer feels more isolated than ever before’: Hindi writer Uday Prakash

Born in Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh, Hindi writer Uday Prakash is best known for his short stories Peeli Chhatri Waali Ladki and Mohandas, the latter a disturbing tale of a Dalit boy who sets off to rediscover his stolen identity. Later made into a film, Mohandas fetched Prakash the Sahitya Akademi Award for Hindi in 2010. Through his writings, Prakash has explored themes of displacement and alienation, and given voice to the concerns of the marginalised. Last year, Prakash was the first of many artistes to return his Akademi Award over the killing of fellow recipient, Kannada litterateur MM Kalburgi. He was objecting to the literary body’s silence over the assaults on writers, and sparked a national debate over intolerance and nationalism.

uday-prakash

You returned your Sahitya Akademi Award a year ago in protest over the killing of M M Kalburgi. How do you look back on that decision?
Honestly, it was fear that prompted my decision. All these killings were done by fanatics, by people of a particular mindset. Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Kalburgi — they were all people like me, elderly. They were shot at home or while they were out on a walk. I had met Kalburgi twice. I knew Dabholkar too. These people were killed in cold blood and what surprised me was that there was no uproar over their deaths. The institution that had awarded Kalburgi did not even hold a condolence meeting for him. Read more

Translated book sales are up, but Britain is still cut off from foreign literature

Today is International Translation Day. Look at any bookshop bestseller shelf in the UK and you’ll see translated names everywhere: Elena Ferrante, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Haruki Murakami, Swedish names all over crime fiction. Recent sales figures seem to suggest that the British public has steadily become more open to European and international authors: according to Nielsen, which undertook research for the International Man Booker prize this year, the number of translated books bought in Britain increased by an astounding 96% between 2001 and 2015. Translated fiction sells better, overall, than English literary fiction and made up 7% of all UK fiction sales in 2015.

But when you examine what is translated into English, only 1.5% of all books published in the UK are translations. Compare that to Germany (a bigger book market than the UK), France or Italy, where translated fiction is 12.28%, 15.9% and 19.7% of the respective markets, according to a 2015 study by Literature Across Frontiers. Read more

 

Faculty, students say space for free thinking shrinking

The controversy over a play based on Mahasweta Devi’s short story Draupadi, enacted at Central University of Haryana in Mahendragarh, about 150-km south-west of Delhi, this past week has turned the campus into a battleground between academicians and right-wing organisation

The uproar over the enactment of a play has left the faculty and students scared to discuss sensitive issues in classrooms or on campus.Read more

The shackle of prejudice: An essay by Jyoti Singh

By Jyoti Singh

As a child, I used to think that America and England were the same. Later I learnt that America was a bigger and more relaxed version of England. Then one day I found out that Americans were in fact prudes – like Indians! I had to unlearn that wearing undergarments in public and holding sacrosanct views on sex and marriage were not mutually exclusive. (As a child, marriage as a concept had seemed so Indian to me that I thought it was invented by Indians.) Soon I knew I was saying America/ England and thinking France. Referring to a continent (Africa) as a country is ignorance, but calling a country America, which is not one but two continents combined, is exactly the same. USA became America when it became great. Now Trump wants to make it great again. But then Michelle Obama came out and said that it’s the greatest. So maybe Trump should rethink his words.

I migrated to the USA four months ago. Trump had already happened, and Brexit was waiting to happen. Major cries on both fronts, even if reductionist, blamed the outsider for the disappointments of the Anglo-Saxon population. It’s a weird time to be migrating anywhere, not just the hottest migrant destinations. Nationalism is being hijacked by the oldest scam of “us” versus “them”, in a domino effect, across continents. It seems to me that the more the world interacts, the more we contract one another’s diseases, which, interestingly, has given rise to the prejudice paranoia. And then we have people who live off stoking it.

Read more

Do we really need to know the autobiography (and name) of an unknown author?

elena

It was too good to last. But surely the most tantalising literary mystery of our time should have been revealed in a better way? Not “outed” like a common municipal scam by going down the money trail. Italian journalist Claudio Gatti believes he did the right thing by identifying Rome-based literary translator Anita Raja as the writer Elena Ferrante, who has been almost universally acclaimed for her Neapolitan novels. She had, he believes, “relinquished her right to disappear behind her books and let them live and grow while their author remained unknown”.

Ferrante did no such thing. As the writer of novels that have sold in phenomenal numbers in Italy, and around the world, Ferrante’s success did not – as Gatti believes – set her up for an exposé. Read more

Why everyone’s writing about our sex lives

married-but-looking

From his studio in his lovely Goa house, surrounded by old mango trees, Aman K (his pseudonym) conjures up a world of sexually unfulfilled Indian women. Or, to quote the titles of one of his six self-published mini e-books this past year, Married But Looking: Confessions Of An Indian Housewife. It’s the urban Indian reality as he sees it, and translating it into erotica comes easily enough to him. His protagonists are married women stuck in a rut, seeking appreciation and attention.

Aman has always found it easy to be around women and to get them to share their stories. “The problem with Indian men is that they treat their woman like a slave in public and a queen in bed. It has to be the other way around if they truly want to be happy,” he says.Read more

There is a need for investment in the creative industry: Sumant Batra, founder of Kumaon Literary Festival

By Aminah Sheikh

Author of the bestselling coffee table book – ‘The Indians’, a lawyer of international repute Sumant Batra’s dream is to mark Dhanachuli (in Uttrakhand) on the culture map. And this he hopes to do through his various literary initiatives, Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF) being one of them. Close on the heels of the second edition of KLF, Sumant gets candid with Kitaab.

Sumant Batra

Sumant Batra, Founder of KLF 

What gave birth to Kumaon Literary festival (KLF) and how do you view it as being different from the other festivals held in India? 

In strive for economic growth, the creative aspirations of the people of India have remained unarticulated. A nation that invests in cultural development as much as it does in economic growth tends to be a happier nation and achieves sustainable development. Creative industry feeds into the country’s soft power. Given the challenging times we live in, there is a need for investment in the creative industry. The idea of KLF stems out of this very belief. There is a whole eco-system comprising of projects and activities that are not limited or confined to the 5-day festival. The institutionalised approach is aimed at maximizing impact, optimize on resources and aim for measurable and tangible outcomes that are in addition to the festival.

KLF has had a successful inaugural last year. How do you see the second edition panning out with the festival being held at two different locations?

It was less than two years ago that I presented the idea of KLF to the world of literature. We could see the green shoots emerging at the end of the first season of the festival last year. The second edition is bigger in design.  Our focus, however, remains on quality than quantity.  This offers challenges of mobilising financial support. We have, however, held our ground, avoided commercial temptations and continue to navigate our way through pitfalls. There are mammoth restrictions and logistical constraints in organising a festival of this scale in a village that is part of an eco-sensitive area.  We have stayed respectful towards the restrictions and observed applicable guidelines.

Which are some of the books slated to be launched at KLF?

Lata- Sur Gatha – the biography of Lata Mangeshkar by Yatindra Mishra, The biography of actress Rekha by Yasser Usman, Shadows of the Northland by 14 year old Vishwesh Desai, and three more.

Read more

Book Review: ‘Selection Day’ by Aravind Adiga

selection-day

Aravind Adiga has been writing about areas of darkness in India for a long time now. In the Booker Prize-winning ‘The White Tiger’ (2008), it was ‘India Unshining’; in Last ‘Man in Tower’ (2011), it was real estate; and now in ‘Selection Day’, he holds up the mirror to cricket, our national obsession.

Adiga chooses to place the story in Mumbai, home to one of the richest cricket boards in the world, master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, as well as the aspirations and dreams of an entire nation. He tells the story of 14-year-old Manjunath Kumar who is good at cricket—if not as good as his elder brother Radha. Read more

 

Reading the world

Penguin Random House’s CEO is excited to bring foreign titles to China and Chinese literature to the globe. Mei Jia reports.

Markus Dohle knew he has “the best job in the world” when Dan Brown knocked on his office door in 2008.

The CEO of the world’s largest trade-book publisher, Penguin Random House, was then CEO of Random House. It was five years before the two groups merged when the best-selling writer popped in to meet Dohle. Read more

Arundhati Roy’s ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ will be published by Hamish Hamilton UK and Penguin India

Hamish Hamilton UK and Penguin India are proud to announce that they will publish ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ by Arundhati Roy in June 2017.

“I am glad to report that the mad souls (even the wicked ones) in  ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ have found a way into the world, and that I have found my publishers,” says Arundhati Roy.

It is her first work of fiction since ‘The God of Small Things’, which won the Booker prize nineteen years ago in 1997.

arundhati-roy

Photo credit: Mayank Austen Soofi

Simon Prosser, Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton & Penguin Books UK,  and Meru Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief, Literary Publishing, Penguin Random House India share, “To publish this book is both a pleasure and an honour.  What an incredible book it is—on multiple levels; one of the finest we have read in recent times. The writing is extraordinary, and so too are the characters – brought to life with such generosity and empathy, in language of the utmost freshness, joyfully reminding us that words are alive too, that they can wake us up and lend us new ways of seeing, feeling, hearing, engaging. It makes the novel new – in the original meaning of novel.”

According to Arundhati Roy’s literary agent David Godwin, the book has been in the making for 20 years and is worth the wait.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »