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Can Rushdie and Roy save the novel in the age of Trump and Modi?

By Angshukanta Chakraborty

2017 comes bearing gifts.

At a time when the United States stands “unpresidented” and Donald Trump is unable to string a simple sentence together without committing grave factual or lexical errors, we have the return of Arundhati Roy, the novelist, and Salman Rushdie, with his grand American book about a family of Indian immigrants.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Roy and The Golden House by Rushdie are easily the most anticipated works of literary fiction to be published this year. This, at a time when literature itself is at its most disavowed, when language, under the barrage of social media, is increasingly failing to convey the shifts and churns posed by technology and politics, and the past is coagulating into imagined purity that prescribes exclusionism as the cure – is a source of hope. Read more

Source: DailyO


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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Swati Sengupta

By Aminah Sheikh

swatisengupta

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I write because I have stories to tell. Because I want to tell these stories in a particular way. Some characters, and a vague, blurry indication of their predicament just pop up inside my head and I have no idea how they got there. Together, my characters and I, we embark on this journey to find out. This entire process – unpleasant at times but mostly exciting – provides me with the rush of air that keeps me going.

Sometimes though, I meet my characters in the real world. I may have heard about them from someone, so I go and meet them and find out their stories. I am talking about my non-fiction and reportage work here.

Basically, I am quiet, introverted and a loner. There’s silence all around me. Writing helps me to survive because I can’t talk much. I like to dwell in my own world in the company of my books, very few people I can relate to, and, the only way I am able to give vent to what’s buzzing inside my head is through the written words – whether it is published or what remains in the closet.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

My recent book, Out of War (non-fiction), published by Speaking Tiger Books, is about the narratives of surrendered CPI (Maoist) cadres. I spent two years travelling through different parts of India – Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. I located them, talked to them for hours, and I’ve remained in touch with many for four years now. I tried to understand their lives and stories. In my book, I look at the Maoist movement, its successes and failures, the passions and sacrifices, through the struggles of individuals – their individual needs, personal longings, sufferings and self-respect.

How do these foot-soldiers themselves view the Maoist movement? Is the movement free from hierarchies and compromise? Are the soldiers free to visit their parents, partners, children? What about those that trust the police with the promise of a safe life and opt out? I visited their homes, heard their stories – stories of abuse, poverty, suffering, hurt, deceit, joy, love…

I worked hard to get these stories. The research was also emotionally taxing for me. It wrung out all my energy. These people and their stories deeply influenced me. Now I know why people turn to the Maoists for support, I know why they become Maoist cadres.

Professionally, I’ve achieved only that much – I’ve written the book, pouring my heart into it.

But personally, I’ve achieved much more. Without expecting to. It was incidental. There was a time when I worked full-time with a reputed newspaper, earned a fairly decent salary and felt happy about certain material comforts. I quit my job to write this book, but the cravings for material things had remained. Bit by bit, in the last four years that I worked on this book, the attachment to material things has gone, and I hope for good.

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Major new novel from Salman Rushdie to be published this year

Salman_RushdiePenguin Random House India to publish a new novel by Salman Rushdie, The Golden House, in September 2017

Simultaneous publication: Penguin Random House India, Random House US, Jonathan Cape UK, and Penguin Random House Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Forthcoming from Salman Rushdie is a breathtaking new novel on a sprawling canvas. A modern-day thriller, it follows a mysteriously wealthy family from Bombay that is desperately seeking to forget the tragedy they left behind as they feverishly reinvent themselves in New York City. Copiously detailed, sumptuously inventive, brimming with all the razzle-dazzle that imbues his fiction with the lush ambience of a fable, The Golden House is about where we were before 26/11, where we are today and how we got here. Here is a book that asks us – in a post-truth world – if facts and authenticity are necessarily the same thing, while never ceasing to be both resonant and entertaining.

Meru Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief, Literary Publishing, at Penguin Random House India, who acquired Indian subcontinent rights from The Wylie Agency says, “This is Salman Rushdie at his finest. The Golden House is a masterclass on the confusing world we have brought upon ourselves. The book dissects the cultural and political vacuum in which a generation – whose frame of reference for globalization has increasingly been coloured by conflict – must perform an intense balancing act. It is a terrific story, told at every step of the way with originality and nimble, impeccable plotting.”

Sir Salman Rushdie is the multi-award winning author of twelve previous novels: Midnight’s Children which won the Booker Prize (1981) and the Best of the Booker Prize (2008), Grimus, Shame, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown, Luka and the Fire of Life, The Enchantress of Florence and his recent Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights. His memoir, Joseph Anton, published in 2012, became an acclaimed bestseller, praised as “the finest memoir […] in many a year” (The Washington Post). He has also published one collection of short stories, East, West, and three works of non-fiction: The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 and Step Across This Line. Rushdie has also co-edited two anthologies, Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. His books have been translated into over forty languages. He is a former president of American PEN.

Source: Penguin India

 


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Literary agent Gillon Aitken of Aitken Alexander Associates passes away

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Literary agent Gillon Aitken of Aitken Alexander Associates has died.

Aitken died peacefully this morning (28th October) after a period of ill health.

Clare Alexander said: “A towering figure in so many of our lives, publishing has lost a great agent from a brilliant generation. He was a wise counsel, a true intellectual and an irreplaceable friend.”

She added: “I am sure he would wish to be remembered in the words of some of the many authors who valued his guidance deeply and who came to love him so much.”

Novelist Sebastian Faulks said: “Gillon was one of my closest friends. He was also my literary agent for 30 years. He was a wonderful mixture of the grand and the modest: lofty, amusing, well-connected but warm in friendship and with little personal pride. The way he lived his last years after the loss of his beloved only child, Charlotte, was a lesson in stoicism and dignity that I shall never forget. As an agent, he was creative, mischievous and drove a hard bargain; but he was also realistic. For my wife and for me, there was no one like Gillon – and there never will be again.” Read more


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When literature travels from one language to another

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Left to right: Rakhshanda Jalil (writer – Invisible City: The hidden Monuments of India), Urmila Pawar (Marathi writer), Radha Chakravarty (writer & translator), Nirupama Dutt (Journalist, writer & translator), Rashmi Menon (commissioning editor at Amaryllis Books)

By Aminah Sheikh

Translated literature is like perfume in a bottle. One often expects the perfume to retain its fragrance when poured into another bottle, but that isn’t possible given the nuances of the source literature – culture, period, emotions. Some essence is lost, while a new aroma is added.

“The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across’. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men. It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained,” renowned writer Salman Rushdie describes in his work ‘Imaginary homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991’.

This emotion echoed during a panel discussion ‘The Glory of Translation’ at the Kumaon Literary Festival. The session was moderated by Rashmi Menon, commissioning editor at Amaryllis Books.

The genre of translated books has been under experiments in the last two decades. “However, it is only in recent times that translators have new found confidence as publishers and source (literature) authors are growing to accept translated work that isn’t literal,” said literary historian & writer Rakhshanda Jalil, of Invisible City: The hidden Monuments of India fame.

Increasingly, writers are Indianising their translations which helps retain a certain flavor from the original literature. Radha Chakravarty, writer & translator (of Tagore’s prominent work) is of the view that, translations are where cultures meet, people from different orientations and backgrounds come to understand each other in harmony.

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Contradictions that define modern India: Review of Saeed Naqvi’s ‘Being the Other: The Muslim in India’

All in all, Saeed Naqvi’s new book titled Being the Other: The Muslim in India is a great contribution to understanding the making of Modern India and how the political economy succeeded in creating a divide among Hindus and Muslims.

By Amir Ullah Khan

Being the OtherIt is such a coincidence that I got to read Saeed Naqvi’s new book titled Being the Other: The Muslim in India (Aleph, 2016) just as we were getting ready to submit our report to the Chief Minister of Telangana. I have been a member of a committee set up by the state government to look into socio-economic inequalities and deprivation among Muslims. The question that we were asked to address was whether reservations in educational institutions and government employment be extended to the Muslim community or not. The report is ready and am sure will be debated over the next few days.

Saeed Naqvi’s book too discusses the various factors our report looked into. It was fascinating to read his book with its amazing insight into what being Muslim in India means today. For someone who has watched the last 7 decades of independent India closely, and written prolifically on the same, Naqvi is a rare breed. This book, partly autobiographical, partly lyrical, journalistic and descriptive, is a vivid account of the journey of a community within a nation. Continue reading


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Padma Lakshmi Opens Up About Rushdie In Memoir

468336-padma-laksmi-123In the 324-page memoir, “Love, Loss and What We Ate,” Padma Lakshmi opens a window into her life, weaving together stories from her childhood, her love affairs and her work through the lens of the culinary experiences that eventually shaped her fame. The book appears to spare little, delving deeply into personal details about uncertainty over paternity during her pregnancy, the pain of a custody case and her efforts to overcome the insecurity she felt being Indian.

Lakshmi particularly highlights her high-profile relationship with author Salman Rushdie, which was overshadowed by a fatwa, or religious edict, that had been issued in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s former supreme leader. It called for Rushdie to be put to death for his supposedly blasphemous book “The Satanic Verses.” Continue reading


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Salman Rushdie: ‘We challenge fears. Literature is unafraid’

Salman RushdieFacing down Iran’s insulted boycott, the author addressed Frankfurt Book Fair to passionately defend freedom of expression: The Guardian

Salman Rushdie has said that “the guardians of freedom of speech are to be found in publishing” and that “it falls to us to hold the line” as he opens this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Continue reading


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Iran threatens Frankfurt book fair boycott over Rushdie speech

Minister says The Satanic Verses author’s scheduled address next week ‘crosses one of our red lines’: The Guardian

Salman RushdieIran is threatening to boycott the forthcoming Frankfurt book fair because organisers have invited Salman Rushdie to deliver the keynote address at the opening press conference.

In February 1989, Rushdie was the target of a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic and the country’s former supreme leader, over the publication of The Satanic Verses, which was described as blasphemous against Islam. His fatwa provoked an international outcry and caused the UK to sever diplomatic relations with Iran for years.

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Salman Rushdie: ‘I have no further interest in non-fiction’

The author on why his new novel is meant to be funny, his growing disinterest in news, and weaving idea, character and plot together: Salil Tripathi in Live Mint

Salman_RushdieWhen I first met Salman Rushdie in early 1983, he had made a triumphant return to Bombay, as his hometown (and mine) was known then. We had driven down Marine Drive towards Warden Road, and pausing at Scandal Point, walking past Chimalkers and Reader’s Paradise, made our way to Westfield Estate, the inspiration for Saleem Sinai’s Methwold’s Estate in Midnight’s Children, his second novel, which had won the Booker Prize in 1981. The New York Times had gushed then, saying, “Midnight’s Childrensounds like a continent finding its voice.” And that generation of Indians felt he had told our story in our language. We had reclaimed the language and its literature, and it was fine to speak in the mishmash sing-song bhelpuri of Hugme (Hindi-Urdu-Gujarati-Marathi-English). He had captured the zeitgeist of being a cosmopolitan Indian.

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