Victoria James reviews Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art in The Japan Times

shungaIt looks like a classic coffee-table book, a hefty hardback of more than 500 pages and almost as many color illustrations — but be careful who you ask round for coffee if you’re displaying the latest volume from the British Museum. That’s because it’s the lavish accompaniment to its new exhibition, “Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art.” Almost every one of those hundreds of pictures, including some in glorious, meter-long fold-out, is an example of the titular Japanese erotic art of “spring pictures,” or shunga.

Chakra_Ritu Lalit BookAnindita Borah reviews Ritu Lalit’s Chakra

In Chakra, Ritu Lalit weaves a tale so intriguing that it keeps you awake till the wee hours of morning. And ever so reluctantly that you put it down … it is the first thing that you pick up in the morning again. One look at the cover of the book and you are drawn in by the mysterious and captivating eyes. And the book surely lives up to its expectations. A touch of magic realism – mixing of the mundane with the supernatural has made it an exciting read right till the end.

Pankaj Mishra
Pankaj Mishra

Five Finalists Chosen for the 2013 Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award

Five books recognized for their outstanding contributions to the understanding of Asia have been chosen as finalists for the 2013 Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award. The finalists were selected from over 100 nominations submitted by U.S. and Asia-based publishers for books published in 2012. The books are:

Salman Rushdie‘Satanic Verses’ author attacks rise of religious and political tribalism that makes people define themselves by what they hate (The Independent)

The Booker Prize-winning novelist Salman Rushdie spoke out against a new “culture of offendedness” yesterday, saying that people increasingly “define ourselves by hate”.

Speaking to a sellout crowd on the opening day of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Midnight’s Children author said: “I do think that one of the characteristics of our age is the growth of this culture of offendedness. It has to do with the rise of identity politics, where you’re invited to define your identity quite narrowly – you know, Western, Islamic, whatever it might be.”

Prolific Bengali writer and Sahitya Akademi president Sunil Gangopadhyay passed away on Tuesday morning in his Kolkata residence. He was 78-years-old.

He was unwell for the last couple of days and breathed his last in the wee hours of Navami morning bringing an era of Bengali literature to an end.

According to initial reports by Star Ananda, he had been unwell since yesterday but his condition but not critical enough to be hospitalised. He suffered a heart attack at around 2.50 in the morning.

Sunil Gangopadhyay. Wikimedia Commons Image

There would be more for literature lovers at the next Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) to be held from January 24 to 28, 2013. The annual literature festival that has been growing in reputation since it was first-held in 2008 would add another exquisite feather to its cap in its sixth editionby establishing a connection with The Man Booker International Prize.

“We will be announcing the ‘List of Finalists’ for the Man Booker International Prize at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Thursday, 24 January 2013. This will include an event as part of the festival at the Diggi Palace Hotel followed by an invitational dinner celebration at the City Palace,” said Truda Spruyt, associate director (culture), Colman Getty Consultants, the UK’s iconic culture and campaigning consultancy, which handles the prize.

John Pilger

According to a statement by the organisers of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, John Pilger, Australian journalist and documentary maker based in London, has confirmed his participation as featured guest in the main Festival program.

Pilger has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award and his devastating and internationally renowned documentaries have polarised media and public opinion for decades. In 2009, he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in recognition of his courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard.