Tag Archives: Meena Kandasamy

The best fiction of 2017

One of the joys of the novel is its endless capacity for reinvention, and 2017 saw fiction writers trying out fresh approaches and new forms. The Man Booker winner was a debut novel from an author with 20 years of short stories under his belt: George Saunders’s magisterial Lincoln in the Bardo(Bloomsbury), in which the death and afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s young son is told through snippets of civil war memoir and a cacophony of squabbling ghosts, was a fantastically inventive exploration of loss, mourning and the power of empathy. There was an injection of the fantastic, too, in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (Hamish Hamilton), which added the device of magical portals opening up across the globe to its spare, devastating portrait of victims of war, creating a singular parable about modernity, migration and the individual’s place in the world.

…. Jennifer Egan followed up her zippy Pulitzer winner A Visit from the Goon Squadwith a more conventional novel of American dreams, Manhattan Beach (Corsair); while Arundhati Roy’s second novel appeared a mere two decades after her first: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Hamish Hamilton) was a sprawling, kaleidoscopic fable about love and resistance in modern India. …

Of the many classical reboots, the most interesting was Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire (Bloomsbury Circus), which contrasts the role of the modern state with timeless bonds of love and loyalty by replaying the Antigone myth through the story of two sisters and their jihadi brother. Hogarth Press’s project to novelise Shakespeare continued, with master stylist Edward St Aubyn recasting King Learas the downfall of a media mogul in Dunbar. Debut novelist Preti Taneja set her fierce, freewheeling version, We That Are Young (Galley Beggar), in contemporary India, with fascinating results.

Read More

The next big thing: Books to look forward to in 2017

What will be in, what will be out, what’s going to be hot and what’s not, experts tell us about books that threaten to stir a storm in 2017

R. Sivapriya, Executive Editor, Juggernaut Books

2017 looks like it will be the year of women writers. At Juggernaut, we are publishing impressive debuts by three young women — Anita Sivakumaran, Tashan Mehta and Devi Yesodharan. And the new novels of two of the most promising voices in the Indian literary landscape — Meena Kandasamy and Parvati Sharma.

And of course, 2017 will be the year of Arundhati Roy. I am hugely curious to read the new novel. It is certainly going to be the most talked about book of the year. Seriously, women writers are all set to own the year.

I am also looking forward to Ali Akbar Natiq’s first novel (in English from Urdu) and Aniruddan Vasudevan’s debut short story collection (in Tamil). I know they are both in work in progress and should be in print later this year. And I also can’t wait for the new China Mieville – The Last Days Of New Paris to reach India.

Kapish Mehra, Managing Director, Rupa

It’s hard to be crystal ball gazing, but I think 2017 will be an interesting year for Indian publishing. Among genres, I see that non-fiction will further consolidate in the market, as it has for the past few years even as fiction — both literary and commercial — continue to.

Children’s fiction too looks like it’s going to be a promising space in the coming year. We at Rupa are coming out with a series of Mighty Raju pictorial books, combining educational content with entertainment. Read more

Source: DNA India

The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Jayanthi Sankar

By Aminah Sheikh

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

As is the case with most of us, constant inner exploration with strings and strings of questions ushers me towards the world of fiction, I suppose. And that subsequently widens my imagination more and more.

Fiction always fascinates me, both to read and to write. For me, it is like living one life in reality but tens of thousands in the fictional space.

I write for the creative experience itself more than the politics in, out of and behind the issues although I do appreciate and enjoy them all while reading others’ works. I’ve found myself narrating mostly with an anthropological approach but the characterization and dialogues in my fiction certainly don’t shy away from the political side of the issue. I let them be as political as required. So, naturally I’ve never believed in creating an ideal world through fiction nor have I ever tried to give any solutions to the issue. The characters take my stories forward. This could be one of the reasons for readers and critics’ ‘author is absent in the narration’ experience and comments.

Like I always say it is the creative experience that I always long for that has been helping me evolve spiritually, the person that I am and will be. It’s one of the important byproducts of my reading and writing fiction for twenty two years.

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

With only two or three stories left to be written, ‘Dangling Gandhi and other short stories’ in English, is forming decently well. Although few of them talk of the contemporary issues in Singapore, some of the important stories transcend beyond eras and geographies. Thus the weaves, I hope, would subtly raise many intricate questions on several social issues of not just the modern multicultural societies and human migrations in this shrunken world, but also of the colonial India, Malaya and Singapore.

Zafar Anjum, the publisher cum writer with such a beautiful theme of ‘empowering and connecting Asian readers and writers, everywhere’, has been gracious to have launched ‘Horizon Afar and other Tamil short stories’ of mine, the second of its kind, at SILF16 at Kishanganj. How well he knows about the role of translation in filling the gaps and also in cultural sharing. I owe it very much also to the earnest and enthusiastic translator and writer P.Muralidharan of Chennai, and the editor of the book for her help in improving the text.

It may sound too ambitious or a little pre mature to say I wish to write a novel based on my transit experience at Delhi amidst the first week of demonetization woes, the SILF16 (Seemanchal International Literary Festival 2016), the town of Kishanganj, Bagdogra, Darjeeling but I hope some creative magic really happens.

Read more

DSC Prize for South Asian Literature: Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland’, Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ among books in longlist

jhumpa_lahiri-620x412Four Indian authors including three poets are among ten writers longlisted for the US $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Popular novelists Khaled Hosseini and Jhumpa Lahiri have also made to the longlist for their books And the Mountains Echoed and The Lowland. Read more

Occupy the Novel: Review of ‘The Gypsy Goddess’ by Meena Kandasamy

There are some rough patches in Meena Kandasamy’s novel The Gypsy Goddess (Atlantic Books, 2014, pp 283) but the author’s spontaneity, coupled with a radiant wit makes this a memorable novel. Beyond the hard-hitting storyline, the variety of experiments with form would keep one engaged, marking out this book as an important debut of the year, says Rajat Chaudhuri.  

Gypsy GoddessThe Wikipedia entry on the Kilvenmani massacre is a mere 800 words long while the Economic and Political Weekly article that pops up in a JSTOR search, at two and half pages, offers a slightly better word count. A couple of documentaries on YouTube, a few stray newspaper reports from the past, is about all that Google manages to throw up about this barbaric killing of poor unarmed Dalit villagers of Kilvenmani in Tamil Nadu, southern India that happened on Christmas day, 1968. Now that someone has written a fictionalised account in English about this half forgotten incident, buried deep in the annals of peoples’ struggles, was reason enough to get hold of a copy of The Gypsy Goddess. Hardbound, with a brilliant crimson cover with gold lettering and wrapped up in a beautifully designed dust jacket, it appeared in my mailbox exuding vintage chic.

The story is about the cold-blooded massacre of forty two people of Kilvenmani village by caste Hindu landlords and their goons just as Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 was about the mindless bombing of Dresden by the allied forces. And obviously it is an immensely difficult story to tell because wanton killing doesn’t lend itself well to traditional forms of storytelling. Read more

Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize

A longlist of 15 books has been announced for the prestigious International Dylan Thomas Prize, sponsored by Swansea University.

meenaThe list includes works by Welsh poet, author and scriptwriter Owen Sheers, five American authors, an Indian novelist (Meena Kandasamy, The Gypsy Goddess), Glasgow-based Jamaican poet Kei Miller, and crime writer Tom Rob Smith.

Two of the books – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, and A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride – have won the Booker Prize and the Baileys Women’s Prize respectively.

This is the seventh edition of the £30,000 prize, which is the largest literary prize in the world for young writers, aimed at encouraging creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence across all genres and is open to novels, short stories, poetry and drama.

The longlist is:

  • Daniel Alarcón, At Night We Walk in Circles
  • Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
  • John Donnelly, The Pass
  • Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
  • Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing
  • Meena Kandasamy, The Gypsy Goddess
  • Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
  • Kseniya Melnik, Snow in May
  • Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
  • Nadifa Mohamed, The Orchard of Lost Souls
  • Owen Sheers, Mametz
  • Tom Rob Smith, The Farm
  • Rufi Thorpe, The Girls from Corona del Mar
  • Naomi Wood, Mrs Hemingway
  • Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees

Read More

Book Review: The Gypsy Goddess by Meena Kandasamy

Spare, incandescently passionate, straining conventions, Meena Kandasamy reignites the Kilvenmany massacre: Urvashi Butalia in The Outlook

Gypsy GoddessThe Gypsy Goddess is clever, serious, witty, devastating, unusual and breathtakingly varied. In the first 30 or 40 pages, you read your way through the author’s anxieties about how to tell her chosen story. As this somewhat exten­ded, witty reflection on the writer’s relationship to the story, her choices of the standpoints from where to construct the narrative closes, you find you are already acquainted with the characters you will now meet, and indeed how the story will unfold. Read more

The ‘Surprising Poignancy Of Narendra Modi’s Poetry’…and the fine art of selling dhoklas and theplas: S Anand

Neutrality is the most vulgar political position, especially when the most bigoted partisans are calling the shots and you want to play along, and even host them, writes S Anand in this open letter to Prakriti Foundation, Chennai

“Since I have known you personally, and since you have supported Navayana’s work earlier, I thought I should keep an open mind and talk to you. Did you really see merit in this book? And that’s why I called you. I just wanted to ask you why you were doing this.  I am sure you had thought this through, but I still wanted to hear you out. Your defence shocked me more. You said, this was just a “marketing tactic” and you said you were doing this so that more people come to your Amdavadi Snack House in Chennai, and eat your dhoklas and theplas. “If Modi’s poetry will bring them in, so be it.” I could not believe this. I felt angry and even betrayed. Read more

Book Review: The Gypsy Goddess by Meena Kandasamy

A viscerally powerful first novel from one of the most outspoken poets in contemporary India: Sumana Mukherjee in Live Mint

Gypsy Goddess“Fuck these postmodern writers.”
With this sentence, Meena Kandasamy ends possibly the most frustrating opening chapters you’ll read this year, replete with false starts, long digressions on everything from Ptolemy to Twitter and enough background information to rival a doctoral thesis. Precociously self-aware, preternaturally intelligent, and frequently convoluted, they also pre-empt every single argument that the reader or the reviewer could advance against these 50-odd pages and don’t spare the writer-narrator either.

Read more

« Older Entries