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A Dissident Book Smuggled From North Korea Finds a Global Audience

By Choe Sang -Hun

It was a dog-eared manuscript, 743 pages bound in string. But for Do Hee-youn, an activist campaigning for human rights in North Korea, it was nothing less than stunning.

In 2013, Mr. Do got hold of what he believed was the first manuscript by a living dissident writer in North Korea that had been smuggled out. Written in meticulous longhand on the coarse brown manuscript paper used in North Korea, the book — a collection of seven short stories — was a fierce indictment of life in the totalitarian North. The author wrote of living “like a machine that talked, a yoked human.”

Thanks to Mr. Do’s efforts, the book, “The Accusation,” written under the pseudonym Bandi (“Firefly” in Korean), has found audiences around the world. It has been translated into 18 languages and published in 20 countries. Translated by Deborah Smith into English and published by Grove Press, “The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea” hit the United States market this month. Read more

Source: The New York Times


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Book Review: A trilogy of Maoism, one of the worst tyrannies of the 20th century

By Ryle Dwyer

Ryle Dwyer reads a trilogy that traces the life and crimes of the tyrant responsible for the deaths of millions of his fellow countrymen.

The Tragedy of Liberation

Mao’s Great Famine

The Cultural Revolution

Frank Dikötter

Bloomsbury, £10.99 each

‘Mao actually toasted unfolding civil war’

ALTHOUGH Mao Zedong is the central character in Frank Dikötter’s trilogy, it is not a biography but a fascinating history of China during Mao’s years in power, from 1945 to 1976.

The three books were not published in chronological order. Mao’s Great Famine — covering 1958 to 1962 — was the first published. That is a ground-breaking horror story of which most people on this side of the world are probably unaware. The insightful account undoubtedly sparked interest in what actually happened during the rest of Mao’s career.

The insightful account undoubtedly sparked interest in what actually happened during the rest of Mao’s career.

As a professor at the University of Hong Kong, Frank Dikötter casts an informed outsider’s eye on the story. Originally from the Netherlands, he was reared in Switzerland and the United States. He writes in a fluent style with an eye for interesting detail.

The Tragedy of Liberation, covering the communist victory in the Chinese revolution, provides in-depth insights into human depravity. Read more

Source: Irish Examiner


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Book Review: In the Garden of My Freedom by Rukmini Dey

By Lakshmi Menon

freedomContrary to popular belief, there is no singular language of poetry. Every writer is unique in the way that they bring words together to create feeling and emotion, and every poem is a reflection of the world that they inhabit. A book of poems, then, is often an exercise in world building at the end of which the reader is left with a new vision with which to see what is around them, the vision that the poet lent them through their verse.

Rukmini Dey’s In the Garden of My Freedom, from Writers Workshop, is a collection of poetry on subjects ranging from the spiritual to the mathematic, the latter being somewhat appropriate given that Dey is a professor of the subject, but more so as the poems in the collection combine to give us a very real, almost tangible look into Dey’s world.

The very first poem, “The Bird Watcher”, introduces the reader to the simplicity of her verse where a young boy prowls after birds in a jungle as his mother watches,

“Seeing him, a bird alighted

On my heart.”

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India: Assam Valley Literary Award presented

The Assam Valley Literary Award for year 2016 was presented to prolific writer and a vocal supporter of gender equality, Dr Arupa Patangia Kalita by accomplished Malayalam writer Prof K Satchidanandan at a programme at the Pragjyoti Cultural Complex here (Guwahati) today.

A recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, Dr Kalita has an immense body of work to her credit. She has authored several novels and collections of short stories, a number of which have been translated into English, Hindi and Bengali. Works like Mriganabhi, Ayananta, Arunimar Swadesh, Felani, Jaltarangar Sur among others have made her immensely popular among the readers. Her writings have also been included in textbooks.

The Assam Valley Literary Award was instituted in the year 1990 by the Willamson Magor Education Trust with the prime objective of honouring the stalwarts, who have kept alive the richness of Assamese literature and inspired a new generation of creative writers to keep alive Assam’s literary heritage. The award comprises a citation, a trophy and a draft of Rs 4 lakh. Read more

Source: Assam Tribune


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Book Review: Perumal Murugan’s ‘Pyre’, may its heat singe some sense into you!

By Anjana Balakrishnan

Perumal Murugan’s fiction has the enchanting ability to fill you with dread. To all appearances, his stories are straightforward and simple. But a couple of pages in, you start feeling the robust muscle of society coiling around your neck in a chokehold. Over the next hundred or so pages you find yourself sitting upright in your chair, bed or floor, willing yourself to read as fast you can while simultaneously hoping never to get to the end of the story.

What makes his writing even more chilling is the knowledge that this story could be true in thousands of villages in India, however removed you are from them. Why villages alone? These stories of caste brutalities could be true in a majority of families in India.

Originally written in Tamil as Pookkuzhi (2013), and translated into English in 2016 by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, Pyre is Kumaresan and Saroja’s love story laced with the poison of caste. Read more

Source: The News Minute


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Kalam: Hindi literary event set for London debut

London/ Kolkata, Mar 18 : The popular Indian literary event Kalam will make its international debut on Sunday in London, under the aegis of Kolkata-based Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with London-based Vidyapath.

With the onset of the Kalam series, poets and litterateurs from the world of Hindi literature will get an opportunity to meet with a select global audience in London, the organisers said.

Kalam is a literary event in which an eminent author engages in a free wheeling tete-a-tete session with a select audience comprising people from different walks of life. Read more

Source: New Kerala


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India’s first children’s literature festival, Bookaroo bags award at the London Book Fair

By Pallavi Chattopadhyay

As India’s first children’s literature festival, Bookaroo bags award at the London Book Fair, co-founders Swati Roy and Jo Williams talk about their journey.

You just won the International Excellence Award at the London Book Fair. How does it feel to receive global applause?

It’s an affirmation of our belief that a children’s literature festival can stand on its own. It has just been two days since the announcement was made and is, therefore, too early to measure the impact it may have. However, it has been heartening to discover — at the London Book Fair — how many people have heard of Bookaroo.

How have you seen Bookaroo progress since it was founded in 2008?

It has been a phenomenal journey with its fair share of twists, turns and challenges, ranging from unpredictable sponsors to even more unpredictable weather. Passion, perseverance and positivity have enabled us to surmount obstacles so that without any guaranteed sponsorship, Bookaroo has now travelled to seven cities in India and one in Malaysia. Building a community of readers, writers, illustrators, poets and storytellers across continents has brought its own rewards. Read more

Source: The Indian Express

 


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A story that runs hot to Albert Camus’ cold

By Manal Shakir

“The Meursault Investigation” by Kamel Daoud is a retelling of the 1942 French novel by Albert Camus. Camus’ book, “The Stranger,” tells the story of Meursault, a man who resigns himself to a desensitized life with little care in the world. The book begins with the death of Meursault’s mother, and his indifference to her passing.

His apathy continues throughout the story, even when one day, while wandering on the beach he shoots and kills an Arab man for which he is eventually tried and found guilty. Camus never elaborates on the identity of the murdered man other than calling him an Arab. In Kamel Daoud’s retelling, he unfolds the story of the victim, giving him a name and a face and historical context, which is interwoven with the trials and tribulations of living under French colonial rule in Algeria and finally independence.

The opening line of Daoud’s book, “Mama’s still alive today,” is a direct antithesis to Camus’ opening, “Mother died today.” Unlike Camus’ book, Daoud’s story is told from the perspective of Meursault’s victim’s brother, Harun, in the coastal city of Oran, Algeria. Read more

Source: Arab News


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The world can learn a lot from India, says Japanese author

Japanese author Mariko Shinju believes the world can learn to live in peace from the Indian way of “living together happily” despite cultural and lingual diversity.

“India has diverse languages and cultures. And I think the world could learn something from Indians as they live together happily despite differences,” Shinju, who was here for a book reading event of her Mottainai Grandma series, said today.

Shinju said she was inspired to write a book on Mottainai, a Japanese term about living in harmony with the environment, for her 4-year-old son.

The author said that although the closest translation of the word mottainai is do not waste! it is not the only meaning of the word. Read more
Source: India Today


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There is only Hindu literature now, not Indian literature: Dalit literary icon Sharankumar Limbale

By Saritha S Balan

For Marathi writer and Dalit literary icon Sharankumar Limbale, a Dalit is one who fights against caste. And today, he says, the lines of that fight are much clearer. The rise of the BJP to power, he believes, has brought fascist forces in the country to the fore. This leaves writers in a state of unrest.

“We are no more in a comfortable state. The unrest has been created by the government. We are now more vigilant and hence more creative,” he says, talking to The News Minute after a national seminar on Dalit Literature, Art and Aesthetics, organised by The Institute of English in Thiruvananthapuram. However, says Sharankumar, we could not have reached where we are today if not for the contributions of secular governments, particularly of the Congress, which has failed to strengthen anti-fascist forces despite ruling the country for decades.  “They didn’t really care for social change or for the minorities- caste or economical. In that way, the BJP is government is just the succession of the previous governments,” he added. Read more

Source: The News Minute