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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 questions with Madhulika Liddle

By Farah Ghuznavi

Madhulika

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

Because there are all these stories rattling about in my head which don’t let me sleep nights. If I don’t write, I’ll be perpetually sleepless.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

My most recent book is Woman to Woman: Stories. This is a collection of twelve short stories, all of which are women-centric. Probably the most important thing I was trying to say through this was that I do have the sensitivity and intelligence to write something other than genre fiction! (Till now, I’ve mostly been associated with either crime fiction or black humour, so I thought it was high time people realized that I was a little more versatile). On a more serious note, I also wanted to draw attention to various problems that plague women—from the mundane to the horrific.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I don’t think I have a writing aesthetic as such, but yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work. I spend ages doing research (and, considering a lot of what I write is historical, that means a lot of research). And, I read and re-read and edit my work over and over until I am certain it’s as good as I can make it. I can’t bear writing that’s ungrammatical or riddled with errors, of whatever sort.

Who are your favourite authors?

I have lots of favourite authors, but among the top ones would be PG Wodehouse, Georgette Heyer, Ruskin Bond, Munshi Premchand, Bill Bryson, Gerald Durrell, and Robert van Gulik.

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Book Excerpt: Accumulation by Segregation: Muslim Localities in Delhi by Ghazala Jamil

Muslim Localities in Delhi

Re-Imagining Political Contestation and Death (pp 116-120)

Political assembly and protest are also performances of citizenship status and claims. While enactment of violence by protesting publics with non-Muslim identity markers are considered routine and normalised, an assembly of protesting Muslims is potentially just another site of their fatal targeting. Another important example that effectively illustrates the preceding analysis is the case of the ‘Sealing Drive’ in Delhi in 2006.

The importance of this instance in the recent history of Delhi unveils complex dynamics of the political economy of built environments, the material logic of segregation, contestations, and negotiations of elite circuits with the unorganized sector in claiming their vision of the city, and biopolitics of the state.

The case exemplifies a tussle between big capital and elite networks represented by RWAs on the one hand, and traders and small manufacturers on the other. Elite RWAs insisted in getting this case filed at the High Court of Delhi that their sense of security, peace of mind, tranquillity, and aesthetic sensibilities were being off ended by business establishments within residential areas (Ghertner 2011; Bhuwania 2016). An appeal for preventing mixed land use was in line with the vision of the Delhi Master Plan, and on the agenda of previous Delhi state governments headed by the BJP and the Congress. The judge presiding over the case, Justice Sabharwal showing keen interest in the case passed a verdict which effectively read as a mass eviction notice to lakhs of establishments which were ‘illegal’ (Mehra 2012).

Allegations of misconduct on the part of Justice Sabharwal came to light later, illuminating the nexus between big capital and the judiciary (Roy 2007, Mid-day 2006). Justice Sabharwal’s son owned a real estate firm that gained substantially from an instance of demolitions as a result of the implementation of the court order by civic bodies.

The traders in Delhi have mainly been Punjabi Hindu–Sikh but many small traders and small manufacturers belong to various diverse social backgrounds too. Diya Mehra (2012) points out that the movement run by the traders’ association employed Partition rhetoric profusely. While on the other hand, they used the daily wage workers associated with their businesses to pitch up the protest against a judicial order which was anti-poor, anti-worker, and anti-unorganized sector.

During protracted protests, in which the traders associations were reluctant to go to the Supreme Court because it could have also given a judgement adversarial to their interest, the traders’ associations continuously negotiated with the state and Central Governments, the municipal corporation, as well as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Violence and rioting was also used strategically as a final device of pressurizing the state and elite networks. There were many incidents of rioting and damage to public property such as state transport buses. Eventually the government informed the court of its inability to implement the order as it would give rise to a law and order situation.

Ovais Sultan Khan, a participant of this study gave me an account of the occurrences that led to the shooting. This foretold law and order problem took place when the police opened fire at a protesting crowd in Seelampur on September 20, 2006.

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Foreign language books big crowd-pullers at book fair in Delhi

With over 20 countries participating in the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair, foreign publishers are offering a diverse collection of books, but it is the language learning guides that are attracting heavy footfall.

Available for several foreign languages like French, German, and Persian among others, the books cater to all levels of learning – from picture books for beginners to novels for veterans.

According to Ishjot, who is managing the stall for German Book Office, majority of their customers comprise of parents who want their children to start learning German from an early age.

Books on illustrations and short stories for beginners, priced at nominal prices, are selling like hot cakes, she said.

“People are buying picture books and story books in large numbers, since they cost hardly Rs 150 each. So, parents who want their children to learn the language are readily buying the books. Those who are already learning German, are asking for more detailed books on the language’s grammar,” she says.

Books at the stall also include a collection of classics by famous German author Daniel Kehlmann, along with English translations of popular German literature. Read more

Source: Business Standard 


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India: Delhi Is The Most ‘Well-Read’ City Of 2016 And Chetan Bhagat’s Book The Highest-Selling One

The national capital has emerged as the most well-read city in India for the fourth consecutive year with Bengaluru and Mumbai taking the second and third spot, respectively, says a survey conducted by Amazon India.

According to the ‘Annual Reading Trends Report for 2016’ conducted by Amazon.in, Karnal, Vadodara and Patna are first-time entrants in the Top 20 list having bought more books than cities like Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Lucknow this year.

Chetan Bhagat’s book ‘One Indian Girl’ emerged as the highest selling book of this year followed by JK Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I and II’.

The third spot is taken by exam preparation book ‘Word Power Made Easy’ written by Norman Lewis, Robin Sharma’s non-fiction ‘Who Will Cry When You Die?’ was at fourth position. Read more

Source: Huffington Post


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Excerpts: Sultan of Delhi: Ascension by Arnab Ray

9789351950929 Prologue

There were no stars in the sky. There was no moon. Just the wet cold seeping through thick cloth and bone, and the fog slowly smothering the night.

Every once in a while, a truck would grope forward over the broken road. Sometimes a long-distance bus would rumble by, but no sooner would its headlights pass than the fog would flow back denser than ever before.

Milte hain dil yahaan, milke bichadne ko

Kishore Kumar’s voice floated from the direction of the ramshackle bamboo structure that lay fifty yards to the side of the road, perceptible through the fog only because of a Hasag lantern that was hung to its front, illuminating a sign that read ‘Exide Batteries’. fte small shop, one of the few that still operated on this side of the highway, sold batteries, torches, kerosene, hot tea, pakoras and, if you knew what to say and how much to pay, desi hooch. It was closed now, the coal ashed, and the front covered with tarpaulin.

But it was not empty.

On a charpoy, at the front of the shop, sat two men, one hunched slightly forward and the other leaning back and looking up at the sky, holding in his right hand a small transistor radio.

‘Why don’t you turn the radio off? Or at least change the channel. I hate Kishore Kumar.’

‘It’s my radio. It plays what I want it to.’

fte first man pulled his monkey cap closer to his skull and clenched tightly the two thick shawls draped over his body.

‘Tell me why you like Kishore Kumar again,’ he said, tapping the ground rapidly with his feet in a desperate attempt to stay warm. ‘Because he has a great voice.’ In sharp contrast to his companion, the man with the transistor had on, as his  shield against the numbing cold, only a flimsy grey sweater.

‘Because he has a great voice? That’s it? I mean that’s all you can say about the great Kishore Kumar? A ten-year-old would give that answer! Tell me the reasons why you like him, explain it to me.’

The man with the transistor said nothing.

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Teamwork Arts hosts curtain raiser for Zee Jaipur Literature Fest at Delhi

The event at the Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi was packed with publishers, authors and supporters of the festival, media and the literati.

Co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple shared their insights into the themes and authors participating at the annual carnival of the mind to be held from January 19th -23rd, 2017.

Namita Gokhale, writer, publisher and Co-director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “We live in times where the cycles of change are puzzling, often disruptive. Books are the answers to these puzzles, literature is the force that links and binds human stories, and contemplates the human situation. In an increasingly parochial and polarised world, literature helps us scale the walls. And translation is the tool that helps us access cultures and knowledge systems.

This year’s festival is more multi vocal than ever before, with about thirty languages represented there. Translation is a key focus and a variety of strands and themes including the constitution, the Magna Carta, Sanskrit, the movements from the margins to the centre, examine the ideals, the ideologies, the realpolitik, of our world, as well as the freedom of the dreaming imagination.”

William Dalrymple, writer and Co-director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “It’s been an extraordinary journey from 16 attendees ten years ago to a third a million today. On the way we have brought many of the world’s greatest writers to India and showcased Indian writing to the world. We have ignited a million minds to the wonders of literature. This year will be our most irresistible spread of literary genius yet. Roll on the 19th of January!”

The programme for the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2017 will touch upon a multitude of ideas and themes including a look at the nation, Freedom to Dream – India at 70 which explores India today in the context of its history as well as its future, Translations and World Literature, Women and Marginalised Voices, Sanskrit, and Colonialism and the Legacy of the Raj. Read more

Source: Everything Experiential 


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India’s first ever Dalit literature festival held in Delhi: Highlights

The very first edition of the Dalit Literature Festival was held in Delhi from December 6 to 8. A press release earlier issued by Dalit Literature Festival Planning Board said, ”An annual not-for-profit literary initiative, Dalit Literature Festival is envisioned as a unique festival built to promote Dalit literature.”

The festival also provided a stage for Dalit culture, arts, films, food.

The fest which was planned on an international scale was held to create a significant impact, avenues, opportunities and access for Dalit writers across India.

Objective of the fest

  • To create an independent, robust and formidable literary platform for Dalit literature
  • To mainstream Dalit literary works, bring them on to the centre stage
  • To help increase the circulation of Dalit literature and make it more accessible to readers
  • To create more avenues and opportunities for Dalit writers and artist
  • To provide platform to showcase Dalit culture, performing arts, films, food, etc. Read more

 

Source: India Today

 


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Book Review: For the Love of Pork by Goirick Brahmachari

By Neeti Singh

love-of-pork

For the Love of Pork, 2016, by Goirick Brahmachari comes through as a collection of brilliant and ambitious verse that is intensely contemporary, thickly layered and imagistic, and reads like beat poetry as it interrogates on one hand the presence and forms of borders in daily life; and celebrates on the other hand the excesses of modern living with its new-found freedoms that thrill in the flouting of social taboos. Brahmachari, who belongs to a younger line of Indian poets writing in English, draws profusely from his readings and understanding of literature, history, cultural theory, culture and politics. His writing explores the matrix of socio-political and existential issues, as it negotiates at the same time, the paradox of acceptance and irreverence in the lives of the middle class. In terms of poetic style and content, Brahmachari’s is a strong and impressive voice, equipped with both the conviction and the courage that a poet needs to explore new pathways in poetic craft, experience, and creative expression.

Goirick Brahmachari, who is an economics research consultant settled in Delhi, hails from Silchar, Assam. This fact is amply reflected in For the Love of Pork, his first book of poems, which is a collection of forty-five poems that map the poet’s years at home, the pain of borders in the hilly terrain of Assam, and that strange sense of being away from home – free, footloose and available to cosmopolitan lifestyle issues far away in dynamic Delhi. As happens with most cities, the Silchar of his growing up years has decayed and is reduced now, to –

Stinking gutters

of hypocrisy and mediocrity.

Broken roads, of hope once,

of disgust now, ignored

through years of slumber

and laziness, and an age

of rage-less youth.

Your universities

do not speak. (18)

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Review: The Seduction of Delhi by Abhay K.

The Seduction of Delhi by Abhay K., Bloomsbury India, 2014. Pg 92, Rs. 299. 

Reviewed by K. K. Srivastava

Seduction of DelhiDavid Mason’s acute observation in The Hudson Review that “The poetry industry fuels itself on shallow rewards, lines on a resume, praise in a workshop, none of which has anything to do with the solitary effort to write real poems” reflects poorly on the state of poets and the kind of stuff being oozed out in the name of poetry. But there are honourable exceptions like the two poetry collections I read recently—Vita Nova by Louise Gluck and The Seduction of Delhi by Abhay K. The latter is a collection of forty-seven poems. Abhay K. is an Indian Foreign Service Officer and a winner of the SAARC Literary Award. He is the author of two memoirs and five poetry collections. In a unique way in itself, the poet presents his thoughts and emotions in measures exquisite. The well-known Italian artist Tarshito has created the artwork for this book.

Abhay K. has indeed adopted a novel method of narration of his poetic thoughts—instead of expressing his musings about his subjects in the first person, the poet allows his subjects to tell their stories themselves to the listeners. That is the reason George Szirtes, winner, T.S.Eliot Prize for Poetry, perceives Abhay K’s poems as poems where “transformations are gentle and humane: the history is deep and lightly worn. This is the beautiful way to be introduced to a great city”. Continue reading


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Review: ‘Necropolis’ by Avtar Singh straddles various literary worlds

By Elen Turner

Necropolis by Avtar Singh, New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2014. 268 pages.

necropolisAvtar Singh’s Necropolis is very different from a lot of English-language fiction currently emerging from India, a major strength of the novel. Part detective fiction, part literary, and incorporating much history and vampire imagery, Necropolis straddles various literary worlds.

Taking it as a mystery/crime thriller, it would be best not to give away too much of the plot in this review, as it is this that pulls the reader along. It opens with a murder—one in a string of murders—suspected to have been carried out by Delhi’s youth gangs. DCP Dayal and officers Kapoor and Smita Dhingra are on the case, and the novel follows their search for the killers. Further crimes occur, parallel or connected to the opening murder, including the killing of an African immigrant, the rape of a woman from the north-east of India and the kidnapping of a young boy from a wealthy family. Continue reading