Rakhi Dalal observes The Machine is Learning by Tanuj Solanki, which poses the question of human redundancy as AI/ML make headway in the techno savvy Capitalist world. (Published by MacMillan, 2020)
Tanuj Solanki’s first book Neon Noon was shortlisted for Tata Literature Live! First Book Award. For his second book Diwali in Muzaffarnagar, he was awarded the Sahitya Academy Yuva Puraskar in 2019. The Machine is Learning is Solanki’s third book.
In the third chapter of the novel, the narrator recalls the famous game of Go, between Lee Sedol and Google Deepmind AI’s AlphaGo, where in the five match series AlphaGo had defeated Sedol, one of the best Go players of all time, by 4-1. He remembers how the IT buzzwords, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) were began to be used aggressively by IT sellers and how Lee Sedol’s loss was employed by the so called thought leaders to create hype by declaring the advent of a final Industrial Revolution where machines would become so smart that they would replace humans.
Rakhi Dalal talks about Shanta Gokhale’s autobiography, taking us through her life at large, highlighting the many milestones she created in this journey.
Publisher: Speaking Tiger ( 2019)
An eminent translator, writer, editor and columnist, Shanta Gokhale’s name needs no introduction. In 2016 she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her overall contribution to the performing arts. She has also received lifetime achievement awards from Thespo, Ooty Literary Festival and Tata Literature Live. One Foot on the Ground – A Life Told Through the Body is her autobiography, published in 2019 by Speaking Tiger Publications. It has recently won the Crossword Book Award for English Non-Fiction (Jury).
By Rakhi Dalal
“Dada!! You are completely drenched in the rain! Hurry up inside or you’ll catch pneumonia!”
I turned abruptly and saw a rickety Chatterjee swaying from the columns of the porch. A sudden pang of cold seeped through my bones and I realised I was completely drenched. A torrent of rain was pouring over me. How did it happen? I remember seeing a peacock crossing over the hedge and landing in the front lawn while I was out for a stroll, but I can’t remember anything after that.
“Hurry up dada (elder brother)! Why are you still standing there??” Chatterjee shouted again.
I rushed in and was taken hold by Chatterjee who was himself sopping wet. He made me sit on a chair in the porch and brought a towel for me.
“Ki (why) dada, I was out calling you for so long, you didn’t even listen. What were you thinking standing in the rain?” he asked. I handed the towel to him and asked him to dry himself.
“When I was out for my evening walk, I saw a peacock flying into the lawn. Out of curiosity, I moved nearer and saw it had spread its wings to dance. The view was so mesmerising that I stood enchanted. But after that I don’t remember anything. I don’t know when the rain started.” I said.
Book Review by Rakhi Dalal
Title: My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories
Author: Sumana Roy
Publisher: Bloomsbury India, 2019
Sumana Roy’s book How I Became a Tree, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Sahitya Academy Award (Non-fiction) for the year 2019. Her novel Missing was published in 2018 and poetry collection Out of Syllabus in March 2019. My Mother’s Lover and Other Stories, a collection of fourteen stories, is her fourth published work.
The blurb of the book describes this collection as stories about people suffering from curious ailments. Interestingly, the book starts with this quote by Roland Barthes:
‘I have a disease; I see language.’
This makes it seem as if the author at the start of the collection confides to the reader her own ailment. Perhaps her observations and thoughts translate into words compulsively and take the form of language. Perhaps it is the inevitable metamorphosis of images, definite and indefinite, into words in her mind, which eventually shapes into stories, essays and poems. Through these stories, she seems to contemplate ordinary people’s peculiar ailments, which do not draw much consideration in the conundrum of conventional continuance.
Reviewed by Rakhi Dalal
Title: Out of Syllabus
Author: Sumana Roy
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books, 2019
Sumana Roy is a poet, novelist and essayist. She has authored three books including How I Became a Tree (memoir/non-fiction), Missing (fiction) and Out of Syllabus (poetry). Recently, she has edited a story collection called Animalia Indica. Her work has appeared in various prestigious literary magazines, newspapers and journals. She teaches at Ashoka University as Associate Professor, Creative Writing.
Out of Syllabus has 35 poems. These are categorized under different sections in different fields of study like mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and so on. At first glance, a reader might wonder about the ordering of sections but as Sumana says:
“..the essence of the poetic— the poet must hide, the reader must look for the hidden. And that a poem is often not about what one began meaning or imagining it to be.”
———– Life in Stanzas, Open Magazine.
The reader must find a meaning for herself.