Gone are the days when readers would look up to international authors who had earlier set a benchmark for sophisticated literature. With Indians picking up more and more desi literature in English off the shelves, the sale of South Asian books has shot up over the decade.
South Asian writers, apart from harking their original, authentic and rooted voice, call for a diverse set of readers who not only relate to the regional synergies, but also crave for elegant storytelling. This is one of the reasons South Asian writing has increasingly become more popular among readers as well as publishers.
Bookshops across India and publishing companies report that readership for South Asian literature is constantly on the rise, making it one of the most popular genres at the moment, the sixth largest in the world and second for the English language. Read more
Source: Times of India
By Ron Charles
Americans know more about Quidditch than they do about cricket, but there must be magic in both games. Although the British import struck out against baseball on these shores sometime in the 19th century, readers here have shown themselves willing to tolerate wickets and stumps if the writing is good enough. After all, Joseph O’Neill’s “Netherland” attracted an appreciative audience in his adopted United States and went on to win the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2009. And now Americans should venture onto the field again for Aravind Adiga’s tragicomic novel “Selection Day.”
Adiga is an Indo-Australian writer who won the Man Booker Prize in 2008 for his debut novel, “The White Tiger.” Its Bangalore setting may have felt remote, but the story of an ambitious chauffeur resonated with people around the world. Read more
Source: Washington Post
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
Front covers from left to right ‘Selection Day’ by Aravind Adiga; ‘Human Acts’ by Han Kang and ‘One Child’ by Mei Fong
From a new novel by Man Booker-winner Aravind Adiga to the final in a trilogy on life under Mao by Frank Dikötter, here’s Jemimah Steinfeld’s guide to this year’s hottest releases.
River of Ink by Paul M.M. Cooper
An intriguing title to match an intriguing plot, River of Ink by debut novelist Paul M.M. Cooper follows Asanka, a court poet in the ancient island kingdom of Lanka. In the midst of a war, Asanka is tasked with the translation of an epic Sanskrit poem by the new, tyrannical king, who believes it will instil a sense of loyalty in his subjects. However, through Asanka’s translation, the reverse occurs.
Selection Day by Aravind Adiga
Selection Day is a coming-of-age story from Aravind Adiga, author of The White Tiger, which centres on a teenager in contemporary Mumbai. Manjunath Kumar knows a lot about himself – what he’s good at (cricket) and what he’s interested in (CSI). But at just aged 14, there’s still a lot more to learn and his older brother’s rival is just the one to aid in this discovery. Read more
It’s a chance visit to his alma mater in the second week of June week that led writer Aravind Adiga to donate Rs. 1 crore (about US$200,000) for the study of needy students at Canara English Higher Primary School and three other primary schools run by the Canara High School Association in the city.
Man Booker Prize Winner Mr. Adiga had visited his school on June 14. “We took him to classrooms (in the English Primary School) and to the playground where he and his elder brother had played during their days in school in 1980s,” recalled Association’s Secretary M. Ranganth.
Mr. Adiga and his elder brother studied there for one year before moving to St. Aloysius School.
The Iranian Artists Forum hosted the meeting “Indian Contemporary Literature” attended by the scholar Safdar Taqizadeh, as well as Ehsan Abbaslou, Behnaz Ali-Pour and Elham Baqeri on Thursday, June 26.
Speaking to IBNA correspondent, Elham Baqeri, research secretary of India’s Cultural Centre in Iran described the event: “The subject of the lecture by master Taqizadeh, the Iranian writer, translator and critic was “Rabindranath Tagore from the View of William Butler Yeats, the Great Poet of the West.” Read more
Indo-Asian News Service reports that David Godwin, the British literary agent who over the course of his career has represented every Indian winner of the Booker Prize (with the exception of Salman Rushdie), predicted that India would soon become the “dumping ground” for American literature, and that small publishers would be “pushed out” by monolithic publishing houses. (His list of clients includes Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Aravind Adiga, Kiran Desai, William Dalrymple, and Jeet Thayil.)
Godwin added that the situation would only “get worse” as big publishers become more and more of a major force in the industry.
This is the last year for the Booker as we know it, before space is made for American writers. But will anything change, asks Shougat Dasgupta in Tehelka
Some Indian readers may still revere the Booker prize. Fifteen years ago, it represented the zenith of commercial possibilities for Indian writers working in English — prestige, tens of thousands in foreign currency, a welcome bump in sales, an international audience. There were a couple of obstacles: you had to write something called ‘literary fiction’ and write it well enough to convince inscrutable, whimsical judges. Still, for a time, it seemed like just being Indian was enough. Aravind Adiga won, man, you told yourself. Aravind Adiga. Read more
I first heard about Ashokamitran when a friend caught me watching old Tamil film snippets on Jaya Max (‘Madura Geetam’). If I was into that sort of thing—MGR, Nambiar, Manorama—he said I ought to read a small book called My Years with Boss, a chronicle of life in Chennai’s Gemini Studios in the 1950s. Next, a film critic in Mumbai recommended the same book to me, adding that she wished something this good had been written about a Bollywood studio. When I mentioned My Years with Boss to my publisher, however, she had not heard of it. She knew of Ashokamitran only as the award-winning author of a novel called Water. I soon discovered that some people—especially Indians who write in English—regarded the name Ashokamitran (which was clearly not a name at all, but an alias) with something like fear. His translator, that man Kalyan Raman, “is our great enemy”, a Mumbai poet told me. It turned out that Ashokamitran was as associated as U.R. Ananthamurthy with the campaign to deflate the egos of Indians writing in English. So who was the real Ashokamitran—the author of a beloved memoir of the golden years of the Tamil cinema, an avant-garde novelist, or a mascot for those who argue that this country’s best writing is hidden away in languages other than English?
All three Ashokamitrans, and a few more, reside in the frame of a frail 81-year old man whom I find working at his desk in a modest flat in Velachery, a middle-class neighbourhood of Chennai. The cover of my copy of My Years with Boss features a chubby, grinning man, whom I mistook for the author—it was actually the face of S.S. Vasan, the legendary boss of Gemini Studios. Both physically and temperamentally, Ashokamitran is his late employer’s antithesis: lean, long-faced, watchful and taciturn. He gazes around his room, covered with portraits of Hindu gods, and seems confused by my appearance at his home until he recognises the name of my maternal grandfather, a famous surgeon in Madras in the 1960s and ’70s. In the way that older folk accept what they cannot change, he now seems resigned to my presence; tells me to try his wife’s coffee; and answers my questions with short statements.
A truly first-rate novel of the corporate workplace hardly exists in Indian literature; equally rare is a novel of sustained psychological intensity. A book that combines these qualities, hence, should be greeted by much acclaim. The odd thing is that there has been just such a novel around for years, and hardly anyone seems to know about it. Published in 1979, Yashwant Chittal’s Kannada novel Shikari tells the story of Nagnath, a migrant from north Karnataka who has risen to a high-ranking position in a chemicals corporation in Bombay. When the novel begins, Nagnath has just been plunged into the biggest crisis of his adult life: he has been suspended from his job for an unknown offence. Eventually, he discovers that he is accused of complicity in a fire that has killed three people in the company’s factory in Hyderabad. Nagnath is a brilliant, if somewhat eccentric, chemical engineer, who has been warning his superiors about safety issues in the factory: someone has set him up for a fall. This is the shikar of modern-day India, where Darwinian instincts of aggression and self-preservation have migrated into the business world. As he slides into a world of corporate intrigue and paranoia, rife with accusatory letters, secret alliances, and messages of sympathy from unexpected sources, Nagnath becomes convinced that he has been framed by his firm’s deputy managing director, the aptly named Phiroz Bandookwala—although why Bandookwala wants to destroy him is still a mystery.