Jaipur Literary Festival, 2019
Every January, India hosts the largest literary festival in the world — the Jaipur Literary festival. Founded in 2006, it gathers the glitterati of the literati in the Diggi Palace Hotel in the heart of the historical city. The festival directors are writers Namita Gokhale and Willian Dalrymple.
This year, it stretched from 23rd to 27 th January and hosted around 300 writers. Speakers this year include well-known names like Nobel laureate (2019) Abhijit Banerjee, Javed Akhtar, Madhur Jaffrey, Aruna Chakravarti, KR Meera, the controversial Shashi Tharoor, Magsaysay award-winning journalist Ravish Kumar and many more. Authors from other countries included Man International Booker Prize Winner (2019) Jokha Alharthi, Elizabeth Gilbert, Paul Muldoon, Stephen Greenblatt and Christina Lamb. More than 200 sessions stretched across five days with writers from 20 countries and literature in more than 25 languages.
Earlier, it had hosted names like Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth and more big names. Subjects like climate change, the water crisis, history, economics, politics, feminism, fiction and non-fiction all came under discussion in these sessions. Even the poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz that created such a stir in India was under discussion. Read more
By Meenakshi Malhotra
Nabaneeta Dev Sen
What do you say when a doyenne in the field of literature dies? That she was a colossus in the field of literary studies? Any summing up of the achievements of Nabaneeta Dev Sen would sound and seem like a comprehensive survey of a substantial chunk , if not the entire field of comparative literature in India.
Nabaneeta Dev Sen was one of the finest minds in the world of literature, in terms of both her creative and critical work. A pioneer in the field of Comparative Literature, she is often perceived as having played a transformative role in transforming Comparative Literature as a discipline in India, from a mechanical reading of texts across languages to a rigorous theoretical discipline. Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s scholarship brought her international fame and acclaim. She was not only a scholar and researcher , but also a popular teacher both in Jadavpur, as well as in the many institutes where she taught ranging from reputed academic institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, France, Japan and Israel. A graduate of Presidency College, she had masters’ degrees from Jadavpur and Harvard universities and a PhD from Indiana university. Read more
By Dr Meenakshi Malhotra
What can you say about a writer who gave a voice and identity to a whole people — a group and a community whose silences are made to speak and sing in her books? A writer whose voice rang out with passion, courage and conviction to detail the sub-human conditions in which her people had lived? A trailblazer whose works depicted the toils and travails of a long suppressed people whose experiences were unrecorded in history books? A writer whose passionate courage helped her to articulate her convictions about the dehumanisation of a whole race?
Morrison was born in 1931 and grew up in a family atmosphere which provided a context for arousing a keen interest in the stories, narratives, folklore, myths and rituals of the African American community. This early interest is evident in the rich oral quality of her writings, its lyrical cadences and it’s measured and “layered polyphony’’. Later, she studied English and Classical Literature from Howard University in Washington D.C. where she acquired her BA degree. This was followed by a Masters from Cornell University in 1955.
Subsequently, she taught at Howard University for two years. She also got married to a Jamaican architect named Harold Morrison in 1958 and they had two sons, before divorcing in 1964.The next few years Morrison wrote, juggled teaching assignments and also did a twenty year stint with Random House as an Editor. This platform enabled her to identify writing talent and she was able to help many aspiring young African American writers to get published. Read more
Wole Soyinka was the first Nigerian author, poet, playwright and essayist to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He has taught in number of universities, including Cornell, Oxford, Harvard and Yale.
Soyinka had been living in America for twenty years before President Trump came to power. He was a scholar-in-residence at New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs when he tore up his green card. He said: “I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the card and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.” He returned to Africa. Read more
(From The Guardian. Link to the complete article given below)
A lost collection of short stories by the celebrated Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz has been discovered in a box of the late Nobel laureate’s papers.
The 50 handwritten stories were found by the Egyptian journalist Mohamed Shoair at the home of Mahfouz’s daughter Umm Kulthum. While some of the stories were published in magazines while Mahfouz was alive – the Arab world’s most beloved novelist died aged 94 in 2006 – 18 of them have never been published. Set in Cairo, they are filled with “fable-like scenarios and reappearing characters”, according to UK publisher Saqi Books, which will release the stories in English next autumn.
Shoair found the papers when Kulthum gave him a box of Mahfouz’s papers while he was working on a book about the Nobel laureate’s manuscripts. He said he felt, “that I’m in front of a treasure”.
The author of 34 novels and more than 350 short stories, Mahfouz won the Nobel prize in literature in 1988. The Nobel jury described him as an author “who, through works rich in nuance … has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind”.
Saqi Books said: “We are excited beyond measure to be bringing these stories to readers in English … With Mahfouz’s often ironic, always insightful observation of the human character, this priceless discovery is wonderful news for fans of one of the world’s best-loved novelists.”
Read more at The Guardian link here
(From the New York Times. Link to the complete article given below)
V.S. Naipaul, the Nobel laureate who died at 85 on Saturday, had so many gifts as a writer — suppleness, wit, an unsparing eye for detail — that he could seemingly do whatever he wanted. What he did want, it became apparent, was to rarely please anyone but himself. The world’s readers flocked to his many novels and books of reportage for “his fastidious scorn,” as the critic Clive James wrote, “not for his large heart.” In his obvious greatness, in the hard truths he dealt, Naipaul attracted and repelled.
He was a walking sack of contradictions, in some ways the archetypal writer of the shifting and migratory 20th century. His life was a series of journeys between old world and new. He was a cool and sometimes snappish mediator between continents. Indian by descent, Trinidadian by birth, Naipaul attended Oxford and lived in London, where he came to wear elegant suits and move in elite social circles. “When I talk about being an exile or a refugee I’m not just using a metaphor,” he said. “I’m speaking literally.”
His breakthrough book, after three comic works set in the Caribbean, was “A House for Mr. Biswas” (1961), a masterpiece composed when Naipaul was 29. It has lost none of its sweep and sly humor. It’s about a character, based on Naipaul’s father, who begins his life as a sign painter in Trinidad and Tobago and improbably rises to become a journalist. The first sign he paints reads, in words the industrious Naipaul seemed to take to heart: “IDLERS KEEP OUT BY ORDER.”
The richest and most eminently re-readable books of Naipaul’s fiction after “A House for Mr. Biswas” include “In a Free State,” an intimate suite of stories concerned with colonialism and the vagaries of power. Set in Egypt, America, Africa and England, it won the Booker Prize in 1971. “Guerrillas” was called “probably the best novel of 1975” by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. It is Naipaul’s most propulsive book. Set in an unnamed Caribbean country where the air is thick with postcolonial British dominion, it offers a complex portrait of the manners and motives of third world revolutionaries. It is an uncanny meditation on displacement. You never quite know where the novel is heading. Its author would later say, “Plot is for those who already know the world; narrative is for those who want to discover it.” His last great novel, set in postcolonial Central Africa, may have been “A Bend in the River” (1979).
Read more at the New York Times link here
By Megha Varier
“[A]nd don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no telling
who that it’s naming
For the loser now
will be later to win
Cause the times they are a-changing”…
That’s Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin, warning writers and critics, “who prophesise with their pen”, not to jump the gun too soon.
But these lines found a quite different reading in the Kerala High Court, in the hearing of a petition against the state’s liquor policy. The judgement pronounced on January 6, pertained to a petition by Perumbavoor native MS Anoop, challenging the state policy, claiming that it was a violation of one’s fundamental rights.
Dismissing the petition, the division bench comprising of Justice PR Ramachandra Menon and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu maintained that, “common good takes lead and subordinates individual’s inclinations. Read more
Source: The News Minute
He’s 82-years-old, frail and not in the best of health, but Nobel laureate Sir VS Naipaul had the crowds at Jaipur hanging on to his every word on Saturday at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival (ZeeJLF). Speaking to Naipaul about his life and writings was Farrukh Dhondy, his long-time friend and eminent British novelist and scriptwriter, even as his wife, Lady Nadira, sat in a chair behind him, taking notes, holding the microphone when he became too tired to hold it, and prompting the words when he forgot what he was saying or ran out of steam. Read more
Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan said on Thursday that he is preparing to write a novel about the ills of corruption.
The well-known Chinese writer made the remarks in an interview for the website of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Read more
Ahmed Rafiq is not only recognised for playing a central part in our language movement, he is also known as a distinguished writer and a prominent researcher on Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore and his literature. In 1995 he received the most prestigious award of our nation– the “Ekushe Podok”– for his outstanding contribution to Bengali literature, and the “Swadesh e Rabindra” from the Tagore research institute in Kolakata, in 2011. When it comes to dependable information on Tagore’s literature, he is one of the few people one can rely on.