Tag Archives: Australia

We Wish You A Merry Christmas…

By A. Jessie Michael

Of all the major festivals in the world, none I think is more universally celebrated than Christmas. There is something in the air in December that reaches far and wide.

When I arrived in China in 2012 to teach, I found a dismal artificial, Christmas tree with tangled streamers, in my classroom, in March of all months! The students who had put it up had no notion of the origins or the meaning of Christmas (or any other religious festival) except that it was universally fashionable to celebrate this thing called Christmas, in December, with a tree. It did not occur to them that it should have been taken down in January. It was in Florida and Australia that I discovered the Christmas Shops. I could not imagine that they stayed open all year round. At Christmas, Floridians have Santa Clause, sleigh, reindeer, and lights and whatnots on their rooftops, down the driveway and all around the garden. Sydney lights up the city and has amazing light displays of the nativity on the outside walls of a Church. Singapore lights up Orchard road and makes it a tourist attraction. No city is spared this dressing up.

In the Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur near where I live, this year it is a White Christmas! There were white trees laden with white cotton and white streamers; there were white swans, still, on a glassy lake and deer motionless under cotton laden trees. There were even polar bears in mid-prowl on snow. Outside it was 33 degrees Celsius. The hotel lobbies in the city are even more beautifully done up. When our children were small, we used to take them hotel-lobbies just to view the decorations.

The origins of Christmas are religious and holy but always seen as a time for joy for everyone.  Over the years with the advent of Santa clause with his legendary beginnings and his multiple selves, followed by Rudolph and his red nose competing with the Baby Jesus, Christmas has taken on two separate lives, the sacred and the secular. The first sings of the Child in the manger and the other of jingle bells and chestnuts on the fire. The sacred is Middle-Eastern, the secular is undeniably Western what with snowflakes and sleighs- bells. Yet there is no tension between the two. Somewhere in between, the twain do meet. The droves of people at the Mall with their children and cameras seem genuinely happy. The mood is infectious. I know for a fact that many non-Christians and total non-believers put up trees and exchange gifts just not to miss out in this season of goodwill.

91RK0gVPWQL.jpgFor believers in my city and in other towns in Malaysia, I know the churches will overflow at every service — the Christmas eve services and the morning ones. It is always the case.  The giving-trees are up where one can hang gifts for orphans. Christmas choir performances are on full swing if you care to check your events page on Facebook. At the same time, embassies are running their Christmas charity bazaars. There are the untold tales of those who celebrate with almsgiving. They visit the prisons, the homeless, the orphans or the aged with food, gifts and cheer. It is the season of giving and prayer and the season of joy, one in which even the saddest of hearts will smile a little and the hardest of hearts will melt a little. Everybody is in the mood, even the naysayers, who, like Scrooge, stomp their foot and  say — “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge then did a volte face.

Charles Dickens  had captured the essence of the season beautifully in his novel written in 1843, A Christmas Carol — that charity, compassion and love reign supreme in this holy season. Read more

The Sacrifice: The Script takes a dark twist with a hooded, mysterious Shishir Sharma

By Gargi Vachaknavi

IMG_0689A private viewing of a film?

That sounds exclusive and enticing… made one feel like a star. But it was just a start — a start to showcase what a small group of talented individuals can do.

The idea for the fourteen-and-a-half-minute film brewed over a cup of coffee where writer Tanuj Khosla shared his story with actress Renita Kapoor. Kapoor said she always wanted to play a dark character and the story offered that.

Set in an indeterminate interior, in this case Kapoor’s house in Singapore, the film mapped the life of a stand-up comedian couple in India (and there is no way to figure out where the locale is if it is all within a room). We know the country because the dialogues mention the fact that the husband is a top comedian in India. The movie is mainly conversation between the couple — in a mix of colloquial Hindi with a smattering of English — the way any person would in a well-to do Hindi speaking Indian home.

The story takes a strange twist.

The wife is Kapoor. And the husband? The husband is no less than actor Shishir Sharma, a well-known actor on stage, television and Bollywood in India.

For fifteen minutes, no one spoke. No one moved. And all eyes were glued to the screen that told a gripping tale with a strange twist at the end.

Zafar Anjum, the founder of Kitaab and Filmwallas made his grand debut as a director of this film – The Sacrifice. Why would Zafar Anjum — a writer with a number of books under his belt and some published by Penguin — move to direction and filmmaking? Read more

Short Story: Rosey in the Sky with (Fake) Diamonds

By Shah Tazrian Ashrafi

0

Rosey, formerly Jameel, lived in Dhaka, a city which fumed like a truck in trouble and grew out of an old patch of fertile land. When the first rods seeded its soil, buildings bloomed like concrete flowers and  native tigers ran away for dear life, their footprints erased by the tires of metallic animals. The new city with its poor infrastructure, claimed its victims on a regular basis — rivers, animals, earth, air, people. Rosey walked the streets dressed like a paste jewellery store, a shiny horse with a rose in her hair and high heeled hooves. Her hair was an undulating ocean of embers when lit by the sun’s fiery rays. She trotted on the busy roads like a cautious horse as her high heels rang in the pedestrians’ ears — thak, thak, thak.

Some children would run away when they noticed her, some would hide behind their mothers as their mothers would say, “Bhoy er ki ache? Kicchu hobena. (What is there to fear? Nothing will happen.)” She was aware of their dread when they saw her emerge from a crowd of ordinary and ‘acceptable’ people. She knew they thought she would abduct them and turn them into her kind. She also knew how stereotypical the human mind was — how unwholesome, how hostile it was towards anything different. As opposed to the children who feared her kind and those grown-ups who abhorred them, there were still some she knew who wore the garb of humanity, who did not fling the term “Hijra (eunuchs)” as a slur — people like Saleem bhai (brother), Ruma chachi (aunty), the vegetable vendor, Kakoli, and Rubel, the postman.

On that day, the air in the market was thick with flies and the unholy stench of meat, sacrificial animal gut and excrement; the ground was tinged with blood and boric acid. Beggars, Hijras and Bedes (nomadic tribals) populated the streets; some in their usual clothes, some in their best; and some with all of their limbs in proper places, some amputated. It was as though Qurbani Eid ( where animal sacrifices are made to God on a particular date by a particular person) had given them a secret clarion call — a call only those living in the cages of poverty and in the margins of society could decipher — as if it was their turn to sacrifice the meat. Read more

AALITRA Translation Prize 2018

The Australian Association for Literary Translation (AALITRA) now invites entries for the AALITRA Translation Prize.

The AALITRA Translation Prize aims to acknowledge the wealth of literary translation skills present in the Australian community. Prizes are awarded for a translation of a selected prose text and for a translation of a selected poem, with the focus on a different language each time the prize is offered.

In 2018, the focus language is Indonesian. The prose text for translation is by Sapardi Djoko Damono. The poetry text is by Amir Hamzah. Each text is available from our website.

At an Awards Ceremony later in the year, winners will be awarded a cash prize, a book prize, and one year’s membership of AALITRA. Prize-winning entries will be read aloud at the Awards Ceremony, and will be published in AALITRA’s peer-reviewed open-access journal, The AALITRA Review, along with a few words from each of the translators.

Closing date: Friday 11 May 2018

Read More

 

 

 

Chinese bookstores abroad show pow

By Yang Yang

A TV documentary sheds light on how far Chinese bookstores abroad have come, Yang Yang reports.

Running a bookstore abroad isn’t only about making profit, especially when the books you sell appear foreign to local readers.

In the past few decades, many Chinese bookstores have faced such a situation in the United States, Britain, France, Australia and Japan.

Besides ringing up sales, the outlets have tried to bridge cultural gaps and cross political barriers so readers in different countries can enjoy Chinese books.

Recently, Tianjin TV started to air a 12-episode documentary series titled Overseas Bookstores.

It tells the stories of seven Chinese bookstores in six countries on five continents. It shows how the stores survived difficult times and have contributed to cultural communication between China and the related countries. Read more

Source: China Daily

Chris Mooney-Singh: Of home and indentities

Interview with the Australian poet in the Ceylon Today

Chris MooneySingh“Having returned to Australia after two decades to complete a creative writing Ph.D, I now see that identity and adoption of other cultural influences have been concerns of mine from an early age. They led me away from Australia to seek a more integral understanding of myself in the light of Eastern philosophy, and other traditional life and culture.

Read more

Australia: Tim Winton and Richard Flanagan on 2014 Miles Franklin Award longlist

There could hardly be a more carefully balanced longlist than the 11 Australian novels chosen for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

The judges included Aboriginal authors, women, veterans, newcomers and a generous interpretation of the award’s search for depictions of ”Australian life” in a strong but unexpected line-up that so far allays past concern about male dominance of the $60,000 award. Read more

Writing requires a kind of retreat into oneself: Ken Spillman

Kitaab’s fiction editor Monideepa Sahu interviews the multi-faceted author from Australia

Ken SpillmanKen Spillman is a multi-faceted author from Australia, whose writing has won legions of fans across Oceania, Asia and the world. With over 35 books spanning many genres to his credit, he is also an editor and a critic. Dr Ken Spillman is an examiner for doctoral and masters degrees. An entertaining and uplifting speaker, he has captured the hearts of tens of thousands of children in Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines and Singapore.

Ken Spillman’s Jake series is a smash hit with younger readers. His adventure series, The Absolutely True Fantasies of Daydreamer Dev is attracting many fans in India, as is his novel Advaita. His widely appreciated Young Adult novels, Love is a UFO and Blue have captured the hearts and minds of teenagers.

His writing has been shortlisted for a WA Premier’s Book Award five times in four different categories – for two wins. His impressive list of literary honours includes:

Creative Development Fellowship, Department of Culture and the Arts, Western Australia, 2010

Top 5 listing, The Australian critics’ Books of the Year, 1997

Winner, Fellowship of Australian Writers’ National Literary Award.

Over to Ken Spillman, as he shares some exclusive insights with Kitaab.

Your books are widely read and appreciated by readers all over Asia and worldwide. What’s your magic formula for infusing your writing with such universal appeal?

I don’t really think there’s a magic formula. Good stories well written travel all the time – after all, we read to enter other worlds. For a writer coming from outside the US and UK, however, finding global markets is difficult. For me, fun is the key. Sometimes I ask audiences, “Who likes fun?” – and of course they all raise their hands enthusiastically. I have a sense of fun and, beyond that, I can only say that I’ve worked hard for a long period, been patient, had some luck, and benefited from the guidance and example of others.

Read more

« Older Entries