Tag Archives: Nonfiction

Love is not a word: The Culture and Politics of Desire

“Why, I wondered, while watching the leaves change colour in the fall, were there very few serious yet engaging books on love, its many moods and multiple meanings?”

From book’s Preface by Debotri Dhar

Featuring essays from prominent writers like Makarand Paranjpe, Alka Pande, Malashri Lal, Rakshanda Jalil, Mehr Farooqi and Zafar Anjum, this collection of essays on love is a much-needed read at this time when the definition of love, is being challenged.

Published by Speaking Tiger, this book gives historical and cultural perspectives on Indian love (swayamvara, arranged marriages, and desi romance); the immortal love of Radha and Krishna that transcends theology; the story of a powerful, sexually desiring and desired courtesan/nagarvadhu. The essays explore various themes like inter-religious love, love-jihad, same-sex love, a Dalit’s journey to finding love in times of dating apps etc.

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China’s fiction and nonfiction bestsellers of 2017

Fiction bestsellers in China last year were dominated by non-Chinese authors, according to OpenBook, while homegrown authors sold better in nonfiction.

One of the most reliable fixtures on the monthly fiction bestseller lists from China’s OpenBook has been Japanese author Higashino Keigo, best known for his mystery novels. In 2017, his Miracles of the Namiya General Store had its second year at the overall top of OpenBook’s China’s charts. In both 2016 and 2017, this was the biggest seller.

Keigo’s dominance doesn’t stop there. Three of his works are in the Top 5 on the annual charts, with Journey Under the Midnight Sunand The Devotion of Suspect X at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.

The Afghan-born American author Khaled Hosseini and Scotland-based Claire McFall complete the Top 5 on the list, with Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and McFall’s Ferryman.

One of the most noticeable trends in the fiction bestseller list is the dominance of foreign authors. When Publishing Perspectives pursued the question of why so many fiction bestsellers in China are by non-Chinese authors, we were told that there are three factors in play.

  • Many Chinese readers have an interest in leading international popular titles, a factor evident in the familiar Western books on the list.
  • Television and film production, often attached to one of these titles, can be a key driver.
  • And some authors—chief among them is Japanese author Higashino Keigo—gain a kind of cult status and can generate years of sales on reputation and across many books.

OpenBook in China is similar to Nielsen in the UK or NPD in the United States, providing research and analysis on the evolving Chinese publishing industry. Below is OpenBook’s list of bestselling fiction titles in China in 2017:

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Kitaab Review: Vinod Rai’s Not Just An Accountant—The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper

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.

Vinod RaiNot Just An Accountant—The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper
by Vinod Rai
Rupa, New Delhi
Pages-267/ Hard-bound
Price-Rs 500/

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. Read more

Sudha Menon: I wish we wrote more letters to each other

Sudha_MenonSudha 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. Read more

Floating City by Sudhir Venkatesh – review

Floating-CityCraig Taylor on a deeply researched, revealing study of New York’s underworld – Hustlers, Strivers, Dealers, Call Girls in The Guardian

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. Read more

A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel

Death-in-Lucky-HolidyThomas E. Kellogg reviews A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel : Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China in LARB

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.

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