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On writing women

By Bina Shah

In researching my previous column on the work of Elena Ferrante, I read how certain critics were convinced that the author was actually a man writing under a woman’s pseudonym because she wrote assertively and confidently about the domains of men, especially politics, crime, and violence. In return, Ferrante’s supporters asserted that not only could a woman write well about these domains, but that “only a woman” could know of the secret interior worlds of women and write about them as truthfully and authentically as Ferrante.

Is it possible for a male writer to do the reverse, and describe the life and mind of a female character as well as women writers must do when writing about men? A consensus has emerged amongst women readers and feminist critics of literature that many male writers have not felt obligated to create female characters who are as complex, well-rounded, and three-dimensional as the men. Read more

Source: Dawn


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‘Why literature festivals, as a writer, fill me with utmost dread’:Tabish Khair

By Tabish Khair

The fun literary festival season has commenced in India. It will hit its peak in January, when I too am scheduled to appear at the legendary Jaipur Literature Festival, and the upcoming and exciting KALAM in Kolkata. As always, I am honoured to be asked, and totally torn in two by such invitations.

There is no doubt that literary festivals do much good: they bring writers in contact with readers, they enable readers to buy a book or two along with the pau-bhaji or burger that they usually buy during outings, and they focus publicity on some lucky books.

So why is it that I have mixed feelings about doing literary festivals and similar public appearances?

I will try to explain. Being born in middle class circles where one has to earn a salary, I have perforce skirted around full-time writing. Writing is a vocation for me, but in order to write, I have had to hew out careers — first as a journalist in India and then an academic in Denmark.

The vocation of writing demands total commitment — something that my careers do not permit. But they come with their advantages too, apart from the necessary salary. Journalism trained me to write accessibly and keep a deadline. It enabled me to meet the sort of people — criminals, politicians, bigots — who were not part of my circles. Academia allowed me to read widely, and in some depth. Both fed into my vocation as a writer. Read more

Source: DailyO

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Tabish Khair joins Kitaab’s Editorial Advisory Board

TK by Christopher Thomsen hWell-known poet, novelist and critic Dr. Tabish Khair has joined the editorial advisory board of Singapore-based literary website, Kitaab.

As a member of the board, Dr. Khair joins the ranks of some of Asia’s illustrious writers and editors such as Dr. Amitava Kumar, Kunal Basu and Anees Salim.

Born and educated in a small town of Bihar, India, Dr. Khair is the author of various books, including the poetry collections, Where Parallel Lines Meet (Penguin, 2000) and Man of Glass (HarperCollins, 2010), the studies, Babu Fictions: Alienation in Indian English Novels (Oxford UP, 2001) and The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness (Palgrave, 2010) and the novels, The Bus Stopped (Picador, 2004), Filming (Picador, 2007), The Thing About Thugs (Harpercollins, 2010; Houghton Mifflin, 2012) and How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position (Interlink and Corsair 2014).

His honours and prizes include the All India Poetry Prize (awarded by the Poetry Society and the British Council) and honorary fellowship (for creative writing) of the Baptist University of Hong Kong. His novels have been shortlisted for nine prestigious prizes in five countries, including the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Encore Award, and translated into several languages. Continue reading

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Spotlight on Singapore at Hyderabad literature festival

by Zafar Anjum


Zafar Anjum (far left) with Esther David and Tabish Khair after the panel discussion at the Hyderabad Literature Festival.

THOUGH Hyderabad is famous for its biryani and pearls, it recently had a “taste” of Singapore – a brush with the island nation’s art and literature.

The richness and diversity of Singapore’s literature and culture was on show at the Hyderabad Literature Festival (HLF) 2016 from Jan 7 to 10 where Singapore was featured as the “Guest Nation”.

Mr Roy Kho, Singapore’s consul-general in Chennai, was a guest of honour at the inauguration of HLF 2016, and six writers and nearly as many artistes presented their work at the festival in readings, panel discussions, workshops and cultural events.

“Although Singapore didn’t have a literary scene until recently, people are getting more interested in literature, poetry and other works of art. There are many libraries and theatres that have opened up and creative writing is taught at many universities now.

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Celebrate differences, don’t eliminate them: Tabish Khair

Tabish KhairThe moment we try to erase differences instead of accepting them, it creates problems. This is because human beings are programmed to differ and no two persons can be the same, said noted

Denmark-based Indian writer Tabish Khair, whose latest book, “The New Xenophobia”, has just been released.

An associate professor in the English department at Denmark’s University of Aarhus, Khair has penned several books in the fiction and non-fiction categories, including “Babu Fictions: Alienation in Indian English Novels”, “The Bus Stopped” and “Filming: A Love Story”.

“The New Xenophobia” dwells on how people constantly create “the stranger” to gain more power over them. “The construction and reception of the stranger of xenophobia, old or new, is always a matter of power, a relationship of power,” Khair observed in an interview with IANS while on a visit here to promote his new book.

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Hyderabad Literary Festival: Identity Crisis of Being ‘Minority-within-minority’

Minding the minority

From left: Zafar Anjum, Tabish Khair, Flavia Agnes and Esther David

The concluding session of the Hyderabad Literary Festival (HLF) strayed into the communal polarisation post-Babri Masjid demolition and the identity crisis of the ‘minority-within-minority’ communities. Though the subject was delicate, light hearted comments from the panel members ignited smiles among the audience. It was a pleasant Sunday and the writers and visitors enjoyed the jovial mood.

Writers Tabish Khair, Zafar Anjum, Esther David and Flavia Agnes came together on stage for a panel discussion on ‘Minding the Minority’ and talked about being a Jew in Gujarat, a single Christian feminist activist, and an intellectual Bihari Muslim settled abroad. The discussion concluded exploring the identity crisis of a minority-within-minority individual.

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Kitaab and Joompe tie up to live stream from Hyderabad Literary Festival 2016

Kitaab Poster - Wed Live Stream - Design #2 (Rv4)
Singapore-based literary startup Kitaab has tied up with Joompe, an innovative Singapore startup, to live stream interactions with writers attending the Hyderabad Literary Festival (HLF) in Hyderabad, India, to be held on 7-10 January 2016.

Kitaab is the official media partner of HLF, and Kitaab’s founder Zafar Anjum has been invited to speak at the festival.

Joompe is an easy-to-use mobile LIVEstream V-commerce app that is shareable across social media platforms. The community broadcasts their events LIVE on the app, on Joompe.TV or embedded on site.

Last year 12,000 visitors are reported to have attended HLF and more are expected this year. The guest nation this year is Singapore; six writers and five artists from Singapore have been invited for HLF. In all there will be 120 writers and artistes for HLF, 2016. Some of the writers’ and poets’ names are Nayantara Sahgal, Tabish Khair, Christine C Fair, Meena Alexander, Rochelle Potkar, Kazim Ali and Zafar Anjum.

HLF 2016-Logo“I am very excited to marry literature with technology through the Joompe platform,” said Anjum. “It’s a first for Kitaab and I can see this partnership evolving into something bigger.”

Kicking off the live streaming partnership, Anjum will be on air at 4pm Singapore/1.30pm India time on Wednesday (30 December) on Joompe’s platform. The live streaming event will allow users to chat with Anjum in an interactive session. Kitaab’s readers can catch the streaming live on kitaab.org.


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Tabish Khair: That Missing Literary Backbone

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

What do you need to be a writer? In the past it used to be a pen. These days, obviously, you can do without a pen. In the past, it used to be a backbone too. These days you need a network.

As someone who has never had a network, I considered myself an oddity until I came across these lines in one of Charles Bukowski’s novels: “The worst thing for a writer is to know another writer, and worse than that, to know a number of writers. Like flies on the same turd.”” Now, Bukowski’s novels have an exaggerated reputation for realism: anyone who knows anything about women would take them with a pinch of salt. And a six-pack of beer. But I am convinced that when Bukowski talked about writing — or drinking — the man was dead honest. Continue reading

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Page to screen: Tabish Khair’s ‘How to fight Islamic terror from a missionary position’ to be made into a film

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

One has to be cautious when it comes to announcements of books being adapted into films. A book might get optioned for film, announcements might get made but the making of a real film rarely follows them. Mohsin Hamid was lucky in getting Mira Nair to make a film out of his novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. So was Jhumpa Lahiri—Nair made a film version of her novel, The Namesake. But even Salman Rushdie had to wait for nearly 30 years before his most famous novel, Midnight Children, was adapted for screen. After many false starts, the film was finally made by Deepa Mehta and released in 2012. Similarly, a film is planned for Amitav’s Ghosh’s The Sea of Poppies (its screenplay is ready), and when Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger won the Booker Prize, a film was announced—apparently, Farrukh Dhondy was to write the screenplay. However, there is no news on both these films. Continue reading

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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Tabish Khair

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet


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

Good question! I wish I knew. It is either like a person breathing or an alcoholic drinking, depending on the day.

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

I have just finished a study of xenophobia. And I am finishing a novel on a very topical issue: the current rhetoric of jihad etc. The only way to find out what I had in mind while writing them would be to read them. Preferably, after buying a copy of each. Preferably, after buying two copies of each – one for your friend, one for yourself.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Is there one? Apart from good coffee? Continue reading