Leave a comment

Literature is not the sole preserve of the storyteller

Through most of literary history, great writers have either tended to look down upon the art of storytelling or have regarded it with ambivalence. We can trace this attitude all the way back to Don Quixote’s plotless meanderings. Or even further back, to Shakespeare’s rambles and language games. More recently, the Modernist assault on narrativity seemed to have put paid to our storytelling instinct for good. And when James Joyce said that all stories should begin with the phrase “once upon a time”—the opening words of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—everyone understood that he was just having a laugh at the expense of the raconteur.

Even those among modern writers who were interested in the story saw it as an extinct form. The story to them was an old-world relic that was out of place in the complex of modernity. Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller” interprets the death of the story as the necessary consequence of the birth of the modern era, in which the “communicability of experience is decreasing”. Benjamin’s essay celebrates the simple pleasures of reading the Russian writer Nikolai Leskov’s stories, by identifying “a new beauty in what is vanishing”.

Then there is Virginia Woolf’s essay on Chaucer, which indulges a similar nostalgia the modern writer felt for the straightforward tale. Chaucer, Woolf writes, “has pre-eminently that story-teller’s gift, which is almost the rarest gift among writers at the present day”.

So this essentially was the modern stance towards the story: informed by a belief that the talent for spinning yarns, a vestige from a more innocent past, was the rarest of gifts. The story, in this view, transcended all artistic ideals, even if, for the writer, it meant catering to popular tastes. As the man on the golf course in E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel (1927) says, “You can take your art, you can take your literature, you can take your music, but give me a good story.”

Read More

Advertisements


Leave a comment

A Writer Returns To Bombay After 26/11 To Confront A City He Left Years Ago

By Somak Ghoshal

friend“I feel no nostalgia,” says the narrator of Amit Chaudhuri’s new book, Friend of My Youth, about Bombay, the city he grew up in decades ago and now visits only occasionally. “What I encounter is an impossibility,” he continues, “of recovering whatever it was that formed me, which I churlishly disowned.”

The sentiment, crisp and unsparing, defines the mood of this odd literary creature. One hesitates to call it a novel, since Chaudhuri’s narrator, a writer who shares his name and his biographical details, abjures the term with a studied deliberation. “No one is sure any more what the novel is,” he observes at one point. “I suddenly grew tired of the novel,” he tells a journalist later, even as the spectre of literary publishing and its dismal fate in the 21st century looms large over this slim volume.

At a little over hundred pages, Friend of My Youth, which borrows its title from a story by Alice Munro, is almost as short as Afternoon Raag, one of Chaudhuri’s early novellas, which glances at his life in Bombay. In Friend of My Youth, the city is at the centre of the narrative but unrecognisably changed from the time the narrator knew it. At best, it can only evoke a tentative longing; at worst, it fills him with mild disdain. Read more

Source: Huffingtong Post

 


Leave a comment

Apeejay Kolkata literature festival to begin on January 15

The eighth edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival commencing from January 15 would be attended among others by Shashi Tharoor, editor-novelist Raj Kamal Jha, eminent authors Amit Chaudhuri, Shobha De, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, scholar, literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and others.

The four-day festival ending January 18, focussed on the historical spirit of inclusiveness in creativity and culture of the city, would be held at the St Paul’s Cathedral.

Maina Bhagat and Anjum Katyal, directors, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival said: “The year that has gone by has wounded the psyche of people globally and its impact will be seen in literature across the next few years. AKLF’s 2017 is woven around starting conversations to make the world a more inclusive place.” Highlights of the festival include a two-day Oxford Junior Literary Festival titled “Celebrating Children & Youth” and celebration of Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize in literature. A film will be screened on Mahasweta Devi. Read more

Source: The Asian Age 


Leave a comment

What to read in 2017

By Palash Krishna Mehrotra

Is any year a good year for books? Despite doomsday predictions, the book is alive and kicking. Here’s a list of titles to look out for in 2017, from all God’s publishers, big and small.

The God of Small Things came out in my last year of college in 1997. Two decades later, as I sit perched on the cusp of middle-age, Arundhati Roy returns with her new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Has she changed; have we changed? We shall find out soon.

Among other novels from Penguin Random House India, there’s Nadeem Aslam’s The Golden Legend, set in contemporary Pakistan; Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West,a love story set against the backdrop of the international refugee crisis; and Perumal Murugan’s Seasons of the Palm, the story of a young untouchable farmhand. In his novel, Friend of My Youth, a meditation on the passage of time, Amit Chaudhuri treads the fine line between fiction and non-fiction and emerges with a sensitive commemoration of Bombay and an unusual friendship. Read more

Source: DailyO


Leave a comment

There Is A Major Problem With This Glowing Amit Chaudhuri Book Review

On 16 March, The Guardian published a review of Anjali Joseph’s novel The Living. It was a glowing review. “An exceptional, unexpected work”, was just the title.

Samantha Johns was livid. She shot off an email to The Guardian, and sent a copy of it to HuffPost India. Here it is:

Dear Ms Armistead,

I read with some interest the glowing review of Anjali Joseph’s new novel The Living by Amit Chaudhuri.

Comparing her to Woolf and to Tagore, the reviewer draws out her numerous strengths. However, nowhere does it outline, in passing or as endnote, that the reviewer was also her tutor, a mentor to her dissertation, when she was a candidate at the University of East Anglia. Subsequently, Joseph worked with Chaudhuri on a UEA teaching program in India; they are colleagues. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Zee Jaipur Literature Festival opens with talk on Amit Chaudhuri’s ‘Odysseus Abroad’

AmitThe eighth edition of the five–day ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival (ZJLF) is all set to kick off with a special curtain raiser in the city. Indian English author-academic and Sahitya Akademi Awardee Amit Chaudhuri will be discussing his latest novel Odysseus Abroad in a conversation with poet, novelist, journalist and DNA India’s editor-in-chief CP Surendran. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Bilal Tanweer wins Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize

scatterLahore-based author Bilal Tanweer’s maiden novel The Scatter Here is Too Great has bagged the 2014 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize.

The award carries a cash component of Rs. 2 lakh.

His novel was picked from a shortlist of six books by a jury of authors Amit Chaudhuri, Aatish Taseer and Mridula Koshy. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Telemachus in Belsize Park

Readers who have been praying fervently for an antidote to Chetan Bhagat novels will have ample reason to believe in the existence of God: Outlookindia.com

AmitReaders who have been praying fervently for an antidote to Chetan Bhagat novels will have ample reason to believe in the existence of God should they chance upon Amit Chaudhuri’s Odysseus Abroad. Chaudhuri’s latest offering gives us the student life scrubbed clean of all vulgar excesses—no campus, no middle-class hankering for IIT or MBA degrees, no girlfriends (half or whole), no unnecessary melodrama and twists and turns of plot, nothing that could be accused of being in poor taste. This is the quiet romance of a young man in love with his own thoughts, delivered in flawless English. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Bleak House

Primal Woman, a collection of translated short stories by the late Sunil Gangopadhyay reveals his preoccupation with man’s inhumanity: Open

Sunil Gangopadhyay is a literary institution. An atheist, a radical, co-opted by the establishment. Happily co-opted, it must be said, and by the end a pillar of that establishment—Poet Sunil, as Ginsberg called him in September on Jessore Road, turned president of the Sahitya Akademi. This is literary life (or perhaps just life): at one time, you’re the firebrand, dismissing Tagore as soft and sentimental, founding experimental literary journals, inveighing against the status quo; and then, before you know it, you’re ‘the man’, an abuser of power, rapacious, venal; a toad squatting balefully atop ‘Literature’. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Amit Chaudhuri: Poet of the Mundane

Amit Chaudhuri matches the glorious nothingness of Afternoon Raag at last with his beautiful new novel about a bookish young Bengali Everyman and his uncle in London: Open

AmitThis is the story of Ananda, a 22-year old Indian man and an aspiring poet in exile, full of the usual contradictions. He is a student of English literature in London but at odds with the city. He reads poetry even in the bathroom, but despises novels. He has not bothered to read The Odyssey and though he has waded through Ulysses, he did not enjoy it, except briefly when a customs man at JFK discovered it in his luggage. Yet, with characteristic playfulness, Amit Chaudhuri layers over the persona of his protagonist that most inter-textual of archetypes, Odysseus. Continue reading