Tag Archives: Jerry Pinto

What we are writing now

I remember the time the first Penguin India books came out. I stood in Mumbai’s now-defunct Strand Book Stall, reading from Nisha Da Cunha’s beautiful stories, Old Cypress and then saw Padma Hejmadi’s Birthday Deathday. Those were the days when I did not buy a book unless I had already read it and knew that it would be something I would want to own for the rest of my life, a belief that only a young man can have. But I promised myself, as someone who dreamed of having a book out, as someone who dreamed of being an Indian writer in English, that I would try and buy as many Indian authors as I could.

I already had a stack of strange-looking Jaico paperbacks: Nayantara Sahgal and Kamala Das and Raja Rao but those were second-hand books, bought on the streets. Now I would contribute to my biraadari, I would help my qaum, even if they didn’t know I was one of them, by buying their books.

That was 1985. It’s been a long time and much ink has flowed and I have given up even trying to keep in touch. We’re a huge bunch and there’s been two Booker Prizes, Arundhati Roy’s for The God of Small Things and Arvind Adiga’s for The White Tiger. We’re now getting close to what might be called a mature market: we don’t just have literary fiction, the epics and the classics in translation; we have genres: there’s chick lit and crime fiction and romances written by men and thrillers. We have 65 literary festivals across the country; I was told that one just ended in Amritsar. Mumbai has three or maybe five, I don’t know. Universities are organising their own. There are hierarchies now: Jaipur at the top and Kozhikode coming in second with the additional cachet of moral superiority.

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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Jerry Pinto

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

Because I cannot dance like Nureyev, paint like Mehlli Gobhai, sing like T M Krishna but I can sometimes write from somewhere inside me that is me.

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

I have just this minute finished translating Jevha Mi Jaat Chorli by Baburao Bagul, from the Marathi. I hope to build another small linguistic bridge with my translation which is called When I Concealed My Caste and Other Stories.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I just wish there were something aesthetic about it.

Who are your favorite authors?

I am a different person at different times and each of these persons has a different favourite author. There is a Jerry who loves Agatha Christie and there is a Jerry who loves Vladimir Nabokov; there is a Jerry who needs a fix of Adil Jussawalla’s poetry and there is a Jerry who can mainline Moby Dick. There is the Jerry who would have loved to meet Charles Schulz and the Pinto who thinks Art Spiegelman is the mouse’s whiskers because the cats were Nazis. This is not a question that this Jerry, the one writing to you now, feels he ought to answer for there will be so many others shouting him down minutes later. (They’ve begun. Yes, P G Wodehouse. Yes, Coetze. Yes, Lessing. Yes, Pamuk. Yes, Rushdie. Yes, Ghosh. Of course, Kolatkar and Ezekiel. And Ranjit Hoskote and Arundhathi Subramaniam. Then there’s Sei Shonagon and Basho. Not to forget Wyslava Szymborska and Hergé. And the guy who wrote the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer? How’s that for concision? Read more

In ‘Murder in Mahim’, Jerry Pinto Pours out His Anger, Without Being Didactic

By  Shreya Ila Anasuya

murder in mahimYou can read Jerry Pinto’s latest novel as a noir mystery that could only be set in Mumbai, a city upon which darkness sets but cannot completely settle. Or you could read it as a heartbroken, searching political study about the people that are sucked in and spat out by the city’s dark fissures. At its best, the novel can be read and enjoyed as a potent, deft mixture of both, with a tremendous amount of compassion engulfing but never completely overwhelming the voyeuristic, fearful thrill of a murder mystery.

The retired journalist Peter Fernandes and police inspector Shiva Jende, who made their debut in a story by Pinto in Altaf Tyerwala’s anthology Mumbai Noir, reprise their roles as a detective duo as they discover that a young man (called Proxy) has been found murdered in a toilet in Matunga station. This is only the first in a series of deaths, and Fernandes – with the dogged determination of an old-school reporter – uncovers the stories behind each one, uncovering layer upon layer of the city he has presumably called home all his life. Pinto uses his discoveries to give voice to his own anger about the consequences of criminalising queer sexuality in India and about inequalities of class and caste in a metropolis that is opening up to neoliberalism even while clutching on to its parochial obsessions. It is to Pinto’s credit that the curiosity, and the anger, feel genuine, and never preachy. Read more

Source: The Wire

 

 

New Release: Half-Open Window by Ganesh Matkari

half open‘On one side, the sea. On the other, the city.A city that seemed to believe that the Queen’s Necklace was enough past for it, a city sacrificing its beauty at the dirty altars of money.’

Combining sharp observation with dry humour, Ganesh Matkari provides rich insights into the human psyche. His compelling prose and Jerry Pinto’s pitch-perfect translation make Half-Open Windows published by Speaking Tiger an unputdownable read.

An acclaimed contemporary Marathi novel, Half-Open Windows (Khidkya Ardhya Ughadya) is a striking portrait of India’s urban upper middle class on an obsessive quest for riches and prestige. Set in the enticing yet treacherous city of Mumbai, it closely follows the lives of people connected to SNA Architects, an up-and-coming firm, basking in the glory of their recent success—a high-rise in the premium area of Colaba.

As events unfold, we encounter the corrupt and ruthless Niranjan, founder of SNA, and his associate, Nita, who think bribery is a small price to pay to get to the top; another founder of SNA, the honest but naïve Sanika, and Shushrut, an aspiring writer who is no longer content to play her stay- at-home partner; an NGO worker, Swarupa, torn between her loyalty to an old friend and her duty as a whistle-blower; a lonely widow, Joshi Kaku, who wonders if moving to the US to live with her son and his family—with whom she can forge no connections—is a wise idea; and Ramakant, a young student of architecture, who is contemplating suicide in a desperate bid for attention.

Even as this diverse cast of characters chases happiness and success, Mumbai emerges as the central character—the driving force behind their aspirations and dreams, and their ethical compromises.

About the Author:

Ganesh Matkari is an architect, film critic and film-maker. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Khidkya Ardhya Ughdya (Half-OpenWindows); a short-story collection, Installations; and three books of film criticism, Filmmakers, Cinematic and Choukatibahercha Cinema. He co-directed the national award winning Marathi Film, Investment, and directed a short film, SHOT, which premiered at the Indian Film Festival in Stuttgart, Germany, and has been shown at various film festivals since.

About the Translator: 

Jerry Pinto is the author of, among other books, Murder in Mahim, Em and the Big Hoom (winner of the Hindu Literary Prize and the Crossword Book Award for Fiction) and Helen:The Life and Times of an H-Bomb (winner of the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema). He has also translated into English, from the Marathi, Daya Pawar’s acclaimed autobiography Baluta; the memoirs IWant to Destroy Myself (Mala Udhvasta Vhachay) by Malika Amar Shaikh and I, the Salt Doll (Mee Mithaachi Baahuli) by Vandana Mishra; and Sachin Kundalkar’s novel Cobalt Blue. Jerry Pinto was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award andYale University’s Windham-Campbell Prize in 2016.

Literature that Sparks Hope

By Aminah Sheikh

book of lightIt is early winter, but the October heat in Ambala Cantt is making me visibly drowsy. “Do you mind some Tulsi leaves in the chai?” he asks. I nod in the typical manner in which we Indians do. “Well, go on then, pluck some leaves from the plant. It’s right opposite the gate,” he prompts. Sounds of chirping birds, sunlight that warms the linen clothes drying on a wooden hanger, happy plants and a few flowers break the monotony of green. The garden is perhaps the only ‘lively looking’ corner of this ageing home.

Sitting opposite each other, with a table that holds a bowl with floating roses, we sip chai. “My father loved roses,” he says breaking the silence. And even before I can acknowledge by saying – Yes, that’s what I gathered from the story “Papa, Elsewhere” he has written in A Book Of Light, Sukant Deepak offers to give me a tour of the place that is home to famed playwright and short-story writer Swadesh Deepak, his father.

Within the confined walls of this house are stories, like in any house – some pleasant and some mired with painful memories. Sukant now lives alone in this house that stands witness to almost two decades of suffering that his family went through after Swadesh was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the 1990s. This phase of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award winner’s (2004) life finds its spot in A Book of Light: When a Loved One Has a Different Mind, among twelve other stories edited by Jerry Pinto and published by Speaking Tiger.

Although Swadesh left his home one monsoon morning of 2006 never to return, his house breathes nostalgia. “I love staying in this house, that’s why I stay here,” says Sukant, adding that he’d wanted to tell his father’s story for a long time. “I wrote it because it had to be written. Some things have to be done. It was a ruthless decision.”

Each of the 13 writers have come out of their shell, perhaps, to tell a tale that has affected them deeply. The process of writing, not so easy at times. Yet they did write!

“Many of us have family histories that contain very troubled moments, that have had people whose lives, their joys and struggles, the love we felt for them or the dislike, remain within us long after they are gone,” shares Sharmila Joshi, one of the 13 contributors to the book. Her story “The Man Under the Staircase” speaks of her uncle shunned by his own brother (her late father) then a Judge at Nagpur High Court. “My uncle Vinay was one such person from among various complex characters in my family – some of whom I have for long wanted to write about. His story just came to me first. Telling it is an attempt to record and then purge maybe, an attempt to look back without too much sadness.”

Lalita Iyer, writer of “Roger, Over and Out” shares the story of her former love interest Roger, who she believed was her companion for life but things didn’t quite go the way she had imagined they would. By sharing their story, Lalita wanted Roger to find a voice. She says that for the longest time, her backstory always preceded her. She was that girl who called off her wedding to a ‘psycho’.  She was ‘that poor thing’. She finally reached that place of numbness when she stopped talking about it and pretended it never happened. “But in the last few years, I have had many friends ‘coming out’ and talking about their journeys with loved ones who were mentally ill. Jerry’s book Em and the big Hoom spurred me to unlock the past that I had so carefully guarded,” she says. “I felt that the world (my family and friends) always looked at the story from my point of view, and Roger was always the ‘other’, the ‘outsider’, and I thought that was really unfair. Sometimes I wonder if he had written his story, what would it have been? He never got to share his story and probably never will. I also feel hopeful that with me sharing my story, there might be other people who are willing to share theirs, or at the very least, people will learn to approach mental illness from a place of compassion than a place of anger or wronged-ness. I hope more people are motivated to seek help and be more empathetic to those afflicted by mental illness.” At times when alone, Lalita sees Roger’s face. “It’s often an ethereal image, of a face in the clouds, like an angel. This also makes me feel that perhaps he has left this world.”

Most stories are of dear ones who’ve passed away and maybe it is easier to write when the person isn’t around, but two writers –Madhusudan Srinivas and Nirupama Dutt- have written about their children. Children they live with and face each day, even today. While Madhusudan through ‘Abhimanyu, Our Son’ shares his journey as a parent of an autistic 23-year-old son, Nirupama chose a unique way of telling her daughter’s story. Nirupama’s “Mother and Daughters” has been written from her daughter’s point of view. We share a very intense relationship of co-dependence. Even though it is a troubled one, we know each other’s mind well, so I just narrated what goes on in her and my mind. That was not difficult at all,” says Nirupama. However, writing as a mother was not an easy task, she adds. “I wished to tell the story, more so for it touched on the status of the girl child in India and the damage that is done just because she belongs to the second sex.”

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Publishers say 2017 World Book Fair a profitable affair

As the New Delhi World Book Fair comes to a close today, the nine-day long event was an “excellent” experience with leading publishing houses making significant profit on sales compared to previous years. Vimal Kumar, General Manager at Speaking Tiger said they had “unexpected sales”, despite facing several technical glitches in the aftermath of demonetisation.

“Due to demonetisation we faced several problems since many a times card machines didn’t work due to lack of signals. But, it has been an excellent experience, rather unexpected sales for Speaking Tiger. Our sales have almost doubled this year,” he said.

Some of the top sellers at the stall included ‘Himalaya: Adventures, Meditations, Life’ edited by Ruskin Bond and Namita Gokhale, and ‘Murderer in Mahim’ by Jerry Pinto among others.

For Penguin India, which saw a hike of nearly 20 per cent in business from last year’s fair, the event being moved ahead by a month from the usual February, has worked favourably. Read more

Source: The Financial Express

India: Vannadasan, Jerry Pinto, Nasira Sharma among 24 authors named for Sahitya Akademi award

Noted Tamil writer Vannadasan, English novelist Jerry Pinto and Hindi author Nasira Sharma were among the 24 authors named for the Sahitya Akademi Award 2016.

They were cited for Oru Siru Isai, Em and the Big Hoom and Paarijat respectively.

Boluwaru Mohammad Kunhi was named for Swatantryada Ota in Kannada, Edwin JFD Souza for Kale Bhangar in Konkani and Gita Upadhyay for Janmabhumi Mero Swadesh in Nepali.

Eight poets were also honoured: Jnan Pujari (Meghmalar Bhraman/Assamese), Anju (Ang Maboroi Dong Dasong/Bodo), Kamal Vora (Anekek/Gujarati), Prabha Varma (Shyamamadhavam/Malayalam), Sitanath Acharya (Kavyanirjhari/Sanskrit), Gobinda Chandra Majhi (Nalha/Santhali), Nand Javeri (Akhar Katha/Sindhi) and Papineni Sivasankar (Rajanigandha/Telugu). Read more

Source: First Post

 

 

India: Translating is less lonely than writing: Jerry Pinto

By Dustin Silgardo

When Jerry Pinto released his first novel, Em And The Big Hoom, in 2012, the general reaction in Mumbai’s literary and media circles was “finally”. Since releasing his first book, Surviving Women (a guide for men post women’s emancipation), in 2000, Pinto had been so prolific in his writing of non-fiction books, essays, poetry and newspaper and magazine columns, all in a style ideally suited to creative storytelling, that it seemed obvious that he should write a novel, and it was a surprise for many that it took him so long to.

Em And The Big Hoom was a memoir in which he recounted what it was like to live with his manic-depressive mother, whom he called Em. It was a critical success, winning Pinto the Hindu Literary Prize in 2012 and Yale University’s Windham-Campbell Prize this year. It also sparked conversation about mental ailments in the country and encouraged many who had lived with the mentally ill to begin talking about their experiences. He compiled some of their stories into an anthology called A Book Of LightRead more

Source: Livemint.com

 

Author Jerry Pinto wins Windham-Campbell prize

The Windham-Campbell Prizes on Tuesday announced its annual list of nine winners. Each of the recipients receives $1,50,000 for accomplishments in the worlds of literature and theatre.

This year’s winners in fiction were Tessa Hadley, C.E. Morgan and Jerry Pinto. Ms. Hadley, a British writer whose stories regularly appear in The New Yorker, is the author of several novels and story collections. Her most recent novel is The Past.

C.E. Morgan’s debut novel, All the Living, was published in 2009. Her second, The Sport of Kings, will be published in May. Mr. Pinto is the author of six books, including a biography of the Bollywood actor Helen and a novel, Em and the Big Hoom.

This year’s prizes in non-fiction went to Hilton Als, Stanley Crouch and Helen Garner. Als is a staff writer and theatre critic at The New Yorker, and the author of White Girls (2013) and The Women (1996).

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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Sudha Menon

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

I write to keep my sanity in a world that is so chaotic. I have always had this retreat from life. I remember, as a child I was a misfit in every sense of the word. I was that painfully shy, awkward, mousy girl with no friends. I tried to fight that by being aggressive and picking up fights but that resulted in even lesser acceptance. In the end I simply turned inwards, started writing on bits and scraps of paper and retreated from the world. I found great joy in the little world I had created for myself. I told no one about my writing. Not even my family because I did not want to be laughed at. I did not want to be judged anymore.

To this day I write to keep my sanity. I love the act  of sitting down with a pen and paper or at my laptop and being by myself. The act of writing calms me, quietens me and takes away the stresses and strains of having to deal with the mundanities of everyday life. I write when I am angry, when I am sad, when I am restless…And when I am done writing, there is a feeling of lightness, a high that carries me for the rest of the day.   Read more

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