Tag Archives: J M Coetzee

The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Shahnaz Bashir

By Aminah Sheikh


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

My basic instinct is to write. Of course, a cause, money, adulation and fame are what writers write for but they can’t happen without the instinct. The vent that I need to articulate the deepest levels of my consciousness drives me to write. When not writing, I sing; I sing well.

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 Scattered Souls. It is a collection of 13 interlinked stories which makes it a novel as well. The connections between the stories have been determined by the interdependent diversity in suffering that run through disparate, scattered individuals as a thread, enabling each character a full role in relation to the other. But that is not how it was planned. It emerged while writing them.

The conflict situation in Kashmir is extraordinary. The stories try to evince what ordinary means to a people living (read suffering) in an extraordinary situation.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Primarily, I’m fond of experimenting with diverse formats. I also like to punctuate the narration with real elements like a letter, an ad, a song, a poem, a list, a symbol and so on. I don’t like tight climax-plots but loose-ended plots to my stories with a multi-plot embedded throughout. I like a matter-of-fact, poetic, stream-of-consciousness, compact narration generally and above all. My stories would stand alone as well as converge, with certain elements, into each other. I am fond of nouns and verbs mostly, in verbing of nouns and adjectives as tiny metaphors. I don’t approve of fiction which is written only to explore the possibilities of language not ideas. I don’t like too much of aesthetic that fails to torture the language and holds it back from telling the latent truth.

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South African-Australian author J.M. Coetzee is vying for his third Man Booker Prize for Fiction with his latest novel The Schooldays of Jesus, a sequel to 2013’s The Childhood of Jesus.

Coetzee leads the 13 longlisted nominees for this year’s £50,000 literature prize, which is awarded to the finest new fiction published in English between October 1 and September 30 each year. He previously won the prize in 1983 for the Life & Times of Michael K and again in 1999 for Disgrace, and was the recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. Read more

Mo Yan says award led to mood swings

Mo_YanSharing a stage with J.M. Coetzee, the 2003 Nobel laureate in literature, Mo Yan revealed publicly on Tuesday his mood change after winning his own such prize.

The two laureates were brought together by the Second China-Australia Literary Forum in Beijing, which kicked off on Tuesday and will conclude Wednesday.

Mo, the first Nobel winner in literature born and living in China, said he had trouble with the sudden publicity, which put a lot of pressure on him.

“I only hope to return to my writing desk as soon as possible,” Mo said, “and I would also like to do good in society anonymously.”

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