Fiction bestsellers in China last year were dominated by non-Chinese authors, according to OpenBook, while homegrown authors sold […]
Readers will be left wondering if the story of Vinod Rai’s who at the apogee of his life with his vast background and experience is to be judged by the referred case studies alone or he will have a second take, let the unsaid unfold and another volume touching untouched or less touched areas of his life will soon be with them, writes K. K. Srivastava.
Let an anecdote precede the beginning. “It is impossible to clean the kind of clothes we wear today!” It is Franz Kafka writing from his Trip to Weimar and Junghorn dated 9th July 1912. On 10th February 2010, I communicated this line to a group of my literary friends telling them that I felt it was the crux of Kafka’s diaries and sought their interpretation. Much to my chagrin none responded. Two and half years later on 17th June 2012, one writer named dan zafir enlightened and this is what he says—‘Clothes, I think, are the psychic layers… They were made “pret a porter” by our parents, society, peers, etc…not necessarily in our ‘true size’ As about dirtying them, we got them already dirty, and it is one’s job to clean or change them with ‘clothes’ of one’s true size. Now I have a question for you! Who made the Emperor’s clothes?’ The answer has eluded me thus far.
Sudha Menon is an Indian journalist with over two decades of experience ín news and feature writing. She has worked in some of India’s prominent newspapers, including The Independent (The Times Group), The Hindu Business Line (The Hindu Group), and Mint (HT Media in exclusive agreement with Wall Street Journal).
In this interview with Kitaab’s editor Zafar Anjum, Sudha Menon says being mother to a 21-year-old daughter was one of main reasons she was inspired to write Legacy. While she herself grew up in an age where parents raised children on their own and brought them up with a set of values, she worries that today’s generation does not have that privilege.
You have been a full-time journalist. How did you venture into writing?
I think becoming a writer was a natural progression of almost a quarter of a century of being a journalist. I grew up in a family where we treasured books more than any material thing. The four of us siblings waited to be able to collect enough money to be able to buy books rather than go and buy toys. Ours was a family of extremely modest means but my parents always made sure we had enough to read. Books surrounded us and so did newspapers. Everything else was not priority. I believe that if we read a lot, that in itself will propel us towards writing and expressing ourselves through words.
The first thing readers should know is that Sudhir Venkatesh is a sociologist. This is made clear in the title of his previous book: Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Crosses the Line. Like the acclaimed writer Katherine Boo, Venkatesh is interested in deep research, in spending years with subjects and piecing together a detailed portrait. Unlike Boo, Venkatesh is present in his books. He has crossed the line and entered the scene. The pronoun “I” is the first word of both Gang Leader for a Day and his new book, Floating City.
WANG LIJUN, a nationally-known police chief celebrated for his bare-knuckle tactics, is a very vain man. The former police chief and deputy mayor of Chongqing, a Chinese mega-city of more than 32 million, Wang had a staff of 20 whose sole job was to record, for propaganda purposes, “his most moving and breathtaking moments.” He had his speeches compiled in a book, and circulated it to his police force for close study. Though he never went to college, Wang was nonetheless obsessed with academic credentials, collecting honorary degrees and even adjunct teaching posts at universities across China. He seemed to style himself as a modern-day Thomas Jefferson, a wide-ranging intellectual whose interests extended far beyond his professional field to include calligraphy, inventing, and even fashion design.