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‘The Sound of the Mountain’: Yasunari Kawabata’s slow-burning meditation on getting older

By Louise George Kittaka

The first Japanese winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1968, Yasunari Kawabata, deals with the gradual decline that comes with aging in “The Sound of the Mountain.”

Family patriarch Shingo Ogata, a businessman nearing retirement, lives with his wife, son and daughter-in-law in Kamakura. Shingo has an affinity for the natural world, which serves as a metaphor for his feelings and reactions to events around him.

He is forced to ponder his own past performance as husband and father when both the marriages of his adult children run into trouble: Daughter Fusako leaves her husband, arriving home with her two small daughters, while her brother, Shuichi, neglects his own wife, Kikuyo, and brazenly carries on an affair. Read more

Source: The Japan Times


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When Jibanananda translated his own poems

By Abdus Selim

There are perhaps innumerable examples of poets translating their own poems in the realm of literature, but what I am focused on in this brief writeup is sketching the trends in Jibanananda Das’s translations of his own poems. We all know the first most successful poetry translator of this subcontinent happens to be none other than Rabindranath Tagore, for, his renderings of his own poems into English brought him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. But of course no such thing happened to Jibanananda Das.

The English translation of four poems, “If I Were” (Jodi aami hotem), “O Kite” (Hai chil), “Banalata Sen” (Banalata Sen), and “Meditations” (Manosharani) came out in the anthology titled Modern Bengali Poems in 1945. All four of them were translated by the poet himself. Abhijeet Roy comments on Jibannanda’s translation in his lecture that he delivered at The Open University, UK, “Jibanananda as the translator of his own poem . . . was anxious to retain his lifetime obsession with the meaning of human history in the context of an unfathomable universe.” The poet himself held that, “Poetry and life are two different outpourings of the same thing; life as we usually conceive it contains what we normally accept as reality, but the spectacle of this incoherent and disorderly life can satisfy neither the poet’s talent nor the reader’s imagination . . . poetry does not contain a complete reconstruction of what we call reality; we have entered a new world.” This mysterious new world referred to by Jibanananda Das was perhaps the anxiety and obsession for retaining the meaning of human history in the context of an unfathomable universe, that Abhijeet has tried to imply. Read more

Source: Dhaka Tribune


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Apeejay Kolkata literature festival to begin on January 15

The eighth edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival commencing from January 15 would be attended among others by Shashi Tharoor, editor-novelist Raj Kamal Jha, eminent authors Amit Chaudhuri, Shobha De, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, scholar, literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and others.

The four-day festival ending January 18, focussed on the historical spirit of inclusiveness in creativity and culture of the city, would be held at the St Paul’s Cathedral.

Maina Bhagat and Anjum Katyal, directors, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival said: “The year that has gone by has wounded the psyche of people globally and its impact will be seen in literature across the next few years. AKLF’s 2017 is woven around starting conversations to make the world a more inclusive place.” Highlights of the festival include a two-day Oxford Junior Literary Festival titled “Celebrating Children & Youth” and celebration of Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize in literature. A film will be screened on Mahasweta Devi. Read more

Source: The Asian Age 

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Literature: Unexpected winners, contested sequels, failed appeals

By Vikas Datta

It was a tumultuous, even controversial, time for literature in 2016 with mixed reactions to the unexpected recipients of its most prestigious prizes, the latest installment of a popular series and appeals of a host of top British and American authors ahead of major political developments in their respective countries.

The year also took its toll, with sad goodbyes to over a dozen prominent authors — from Nobel Prize winners to the first to extensively study the impact of our advancing technology on culture and society, and an indefatigable Indian woman activist for the rights of the marginalised to a reclusive American woman who achieved literary immortality with her sole work.

In a decision that earned it much praise — and much criticism — the Swedish Academy announced the Nobel Prize for Literature would go to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Read more

Source: India New England


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VS Naipaul: The shock of the new


Sir Vidia is attending the Dhaka Lit Fest 2016. The news has taken Dhaka’s literary crowd by storm. This article explains why Naipaul is one of the biggest writers writing in English today.

I first encountered VS Naipaul in 1972, sometime in March as I recall. The timing could not have been better.

We were then living in Karachi, in a housing colony on Garden Road. We were Bengalis who were no longer citizens, trapped in Pakistan and waiting to get out of there to Bangladesh. Waiting, with our lives on hold. As the days passed, quite unexpectedly, I discovered that I was free in a way I had never been before. None of the old things – exams, classes, textbooks, schedules – mattered a hoot anymore. My parents couldn’t care less. In that void, I took to reading. I scoured for books, piling them up in a corner of my room. I read them, one by one, in a dreamlike state – it was reading at its purest. Even now, those books are vividly with me. Around us, Pakistan was reeling from being cut down to size, with half its vaunted army in Indian POW camps, with Bhutto ranting and workers rioting in the streets. But I sat in the still eye of this storm and kept reading, the boy in the bubble. When, quite unexpectedly, Naipaul came calling. Read more

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Rabindranath Tagore 2nd most popular Literature Laureate after Dylan: Nobel Prize Organisation


Rabindranath Tagore, the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize in 1913 and the only Indian in the literature category is the “second most popular Literature Laureate right now” going by the number of visits on the website, the Nobel Prize Organisation tweeted late on Wednesday.

Tagore is only second to this year’s winner Bob Dylan. Unlike Dylan, whose popularity was global with fans from all over the world, Tagore was comparatively unknown in Europe or the West in general when he won the prize in 1913, only the 13th to win a Nobel for literature.

In fact, the award ceremony speech in 1913 reads: “…After exhaustive and conscientious deliberation, having concluded that these poems of his most nearly approach the prescribed standard, the Academy thought that there was no reason to hesitate because the poet’s name was still comparatively unknown in Europe, due to the distant location of his home.” Read more

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Thanks to the Nobel Prizes We Get to Read Writers from Outside the Anglophone West

It’s that time of the year again – we will know who wins the Nobel Prize of Literature on 13 October. Hopefully we will discover someone like Patrick Modiano and Svetlana Alexievich, who were virtual unknowns in the Anglophone West-centric literary world of ours. The works of Modiano and Alexievich only started to arrive in India after their Nobel wins; we would have been denied of their profound works which experimented with form and the way of saying, if the Nobel Prize wasn’t conferred upon them. Their works weren’t also published by the mainstream UK and USA publishers, and this says a lot about the motivation and the ability of the Anglophone world to recognize and publish world literature. One feels a certain gratitude for the Nobel Prize for being the only prize in our world that continues to identify and celebrate literature.

India hasn’t won the Nobel Prize for Literature since Tagore–it has been over 100 years since that momentous event for Asia. The reasons for that could be many: regional language literature wasn’t translated or didn’t find its way to Europe. In Calcutta, there are still passionate discussions about why certain Indian authors – who didn’t write in English – should have won the Nobel Prize, but they didn’t, because they were not promoted by the Indian literary ecosystem. The names of Jibananda Das, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay U.R. Ananthamurthy and Ashapurna Devi are always mentioned. Read more

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Four Japanese were nominees for ’64 Nobel literature prize: documents

Four Japanese writers including novelists Junichiro Tanizaki and Yukio Mishima were nominees for the 1964 Nobel Prize in literature, according to documents released by the Swedish Academy.

The documents, made available at Kyodo News’ request after a customary 50-year period of secrecy, also showed that Tanizaki made it as far as the six-candidate shortlist for the prize that year. Continue reading

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Patrick Modiano Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Patrick_ModianoPatrick Modiano, the French novelist whose works often explore the traumas of the Nazi occupation of France and hinge on the themes of memory, alienation and the puzzle of identity, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

In an announcement in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy cited Mr. Modiano’s ability to evoke “the most ungraspable human destinies” in his work.

The Nobel, one of the most prestigious and financially generous awards in the world, comes with a $1.1 million prize. The literature prize is given out for a lifetime of writing rather than for a single work. Continue reading

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China: Looking for the next Mo Yan

A group of Sinologists have “nominated” the most promising Chinese candidates for the 2014 Nobel Prize in literature, which is expected to be announced in October. Most said novelist Liu Zhenyun is the strongest candidate to win the prize. The Sinologists made the nomination during a symposium on Chinese literature and translation last month in Beijing. Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2012.   Continue reading