Tag Archives: writer

A Lost World by Ratnottama Sengupta


It took me a while to recognise Herbert.

I was visiting my parents in Bombay after some years, and a friend had dropped in. When I walked her to the gate, Herbert was standing across the road. As he crossed over, he greeted me, “Utuma!”

But for that, I would not have known him, for the yellow-eyed, shabbily clad dark youth had little in common with the chubby, curly haired neighbourhood boy who had anglicised my name in our childhood.

“Seeing you after a long time!” Herbert exclaimed.

“Fifteen years at the least,” I replied.

“Where are you living now?” he wanted to know. I told him that I had moved to Delhi and asked him when he had got back from Kuwait.

“When Mummy died,” he said. “You know that we’ve sold the house?”

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A true utopia: An interview with N. K. Jemisin

(From the Paris Review. Link to the complete interview is given below)

N. K. Jemisin is the author of nine books—a duology, two trilogies, and a short story collection. The last of those, How Long ‘til Black Future Month?, is her most recent. Not only is she the only writer to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel, one of the highest awards in science fiction and fantasy, three years in a row (for all three groundbreaking books of the Broken Earth series), but she is also the first black person to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel ever. Speculative fiction is about imagining futures, but those futures are only as revolutionary as the minds of those who create them. We are lucky to have Jemisin’s revolutionary imagination to expand our own.

How Long ‘til Black Future Month? is a collection of twenty-two stories written over the course of fifteen years. Each story contains a world that you never want to leave, whether it’s to stay close to Franca while she cooks meals in the kitchen of an inn or to walk alongside Jessaline while she undertakes a covert mission to save her people. Jemisin’s characters usually don’t live in a utopia, but they are fighters—for better futures, for better lives, for their fellow kind.

In 2016, the New York Times referred to Ursula K. Le Guin as America’s greatest living science-fiction writer. Though Jemisin’s books have only been in circulation for eight years, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that she could one day be the greatest living science-fiction writer for a new generation. She may already be.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Jemisin and I spoke by phone about utopia, justice, sitting with damage, and more.


In the introduction to How Long ‘til Black Future Month?, you write that short stories presented a way for you to work out techniques and consider perspectives without the commitment of a novel. What else do short stories offer you that the novel doesn’t?


Really, that’s the main thing. You’re still putting a pretty hefty mental commitment into making a short story. Even though it’s relatively brief, you still have to come up with a world that’s coherent. I find short stories almost as difficult to write as novels, it’s just less time-consuming. Short stories are hard for me. That’s why the collection is something like fifteen years worth of short stories. They asked me to write several new ones for the collection and I was just like, Not likely to happen. In fact, I can really only write them when I’m between novels because they take away from whatever energy I’m trying to pour into a novel.

Read more at the Paris Review link here


When a writer wants you and only you to design their cover

(From Lit Hub. Link to the complete post given below)

As an art director for the Simon & Schuster imprint, I’m fortunate to be able to work on some of the best books being published today and with some of the best editors in the industry. I often have more than enough on my plate designing and art directing our numerous titles, but because I truly love what I do, and I’m a bit of a workaholic, I also have an active freelance career in addition to my full-time job. In my free time, I design a wide range of fiction and non-fiction covers for publishing houses across the US and internationally.

When I was contacted by Grove Atlantic last year to design a memoir, I was thrilled—I had never worked with them before and I’ve always admired the books they publish. When a follow-up email mentioned that the author, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, had specifically asked for me—she found me through a Google search and said she loved the way I integrated illustrations and fonts—I was shocked and incredibly flattered . . . which quickly led to an overwhelming sense of dread that I would never be able to pull this off, and that all of my previous design work had been the result of divine intervention. Such is the roller coaster of creative work.

I soon got over myself and started working. I was immediately drawn in to Lisa’s beautiful manuscript, but it proved particularly difficult for me—I, too, had a messy, complicated, on-and-off relationship with my father for many years after my parents’ divorce. I’d never read anything else that captured the perspective of a young child dealing with a mercurial, often volatile, parent in quite the same way this book does. While it’s rare and wonderful to connect with a manuscript in this way, too much emotional investment can be detrimental to the design process. Often, if I truly love a book or connect with it on a personal level, there’s an added pressure to get it right—to do it justice.

Read more at the Lit Hub link here

The Lounge Chair Interview: 15 questions with Saikat Majumdar

By Neha Mehrotra

Head of the English department at Ashoka University, Saikat Majumdar is an academic, novelist and critic. He is the author of Silverfish (HarperCollins, 2007), Prose of the World: Modernism and the Banality of Empire (Columbia University Press and Orient Blackswan, 2013 and 2015), The Firebird (Hachette 2015 and 2017). The Scent of God (Simon and Schuster) is forthcoming in 2019.

The Firebird was one of Telegraph’s Best Books of 2015 and a finalist for the Atta-Galatta/Bangalore Literature Festival Fiction Prize in 2015 and the Mumbai Film Festival Word-to-Screen Market in 2016. His 2013 book on global modernisms was a finalist for the Modernist Studies Association Annual Book Prize in 2014.

In addition to being published by major journals such as PMLA, NLH: New Literary History, Cambridge History of the Indian Novel in English, Modern Fiction Studies, and Literary Activism: A Collection of Perspectives, Saikat’s writing also features regularly in mainstream publications such as The Hindu, Outlook, Times Higher Education, Hindustan Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Indian Express, Caravan, Scroll, Telegraph, and Times of India.

Saikat Majumdar

Saikat Majumdar

How do you identify as a writer?

Primarily as a novelist. That’s the core to which I keep returning. I do other kinds of writing too, but I realize I do them all on a novelist’s terms. So my literary criticism is criticism by a novelist, and my nonfiction and newspaper essays are often novelistic in spirit and style. Not to say they are ‘fictional’ – hopefully I speak the truth when I mean to – it’s rather about the assumption of a voice of my own and a kind of an eye through which I see the world and think about it. Even when it’s the real world and not a fictionally crafted one. But since I actually do different kinds of writing, I like the term ‘writer’ and the looseness it evokes, and the way it avoids attaching itself to any particular genre or book. I’m not a fan of the word ‘author’ unless it’s used in connection to a particular work – it carries too much authority.

What impels you to write, especially the kind of books you write?

A ghost grabs me and makes me. Seriously, I don’t choose any of the themes or stories of my books – they always choose me and when I realize I have no choice whatsoever but to write, I know I have a real book there. Usually it’s a ghost from my past. A bit different with newspaper articles, or contributions to edited volumes or collections and there is more conscious choice there. But the books, the most important things, especially the novels, I can only write when I feel that absolute compulsion, and at one level I can never make out where they come from.

Tell us about your most recent piece of writing apart from what you have published.

This morning I put the finishing touches to an essay on Calcutta that is part of an anthology of writing by novelists on the cities they’ve written about, Writing in the City, edited by Stuti Khanna, with contributions from Siddharth Chowdhury, Manu Joseph, Amitava Kumar, Indra Sinha, Amit Chaudhuri, Rupa Bajwa, Anjum Hasan, Manju Kapur and several others. Much looking forward to seeing this in print and how everybody has approached the subject.

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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

India: Gulzar to get LitFest Poet Laureate award at Tata Literature Live!


Veteran lyricist, writer and filmmaker Gulzar has been chosen for this year’s Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate award, which will be presented to him on November 17 during the 7th edition of the Mumbai LitFest, organisers said. “For a moment, I felt like there might have been a mistake, akin to walking into a dimly lit room, where it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust.”

“It is a great honour to be receiving this award; it gives you a little more confidence and assurance in your work,” the 82-year-old poet, who will be reading a few of his works at the festival, said. He won his first National Film Award in 1972 for ‘Koshish’ and went on to collect a string of accolades and trophies, including an Academy award for the song ‘Jai Ho!’ from the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Read more

The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Barrie Sherwood

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé


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

Syntax is an endlessly entertaining, Tetris-like game that I never tire of playing, even when standing on the MRT. I love seeing how sentences come together with just a little nudge.

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

I don’t like superstition when it’s not confined to the quaint past or some jungle in Brazil, but on occasion I allow for its protection in this one instance: never discuss a work in progress.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Avoid cliché.

Who are your favorite authors?

Flaubert retains the yellow jersey, Patrick White and Nabokov are vying for second, and the rest are in a tightly-packed peloton. I appreciate writers who take risks, and sometimes fail. The same pen was responsible for Madame Bovary and Salammbo; I find that both frightening and confidence-inspiring.

What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.

I wrote a novel about a North Korean defector. Only in writing it did I realize how much of a swindle the whole idea was. I did endless research, travelling, interviews, but it was no good. No matter what the depth of the writer’s imaginative investment or the extent of his research, the readers – who just purchased the book for $25.99 – have too clear an idea of how much the writer profits from the enterprise. Straight journalism – of which there is plenty if you look for it – is infinitely better than this kind of socially-aware fiction about, let’s say, the Holocaust or the Armenian genocide or 9/11. And you can’t Flaubert your way out of it. The better the writing, the deeper is your moral dilemma – that’s Sebald’s lesson. But of course the whole issue of appropriation of voice is passé, don’t you know. Those who say you can’t write about this or that are closing down the discussion. (Which is, of course, the writer’s own way of closing down the discussion.) I will say that no one else can make the decision for you. You have to trust in your own moral compass.

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No land can aspire to be the land of the free, unless it aspires also to be the home of the brave: Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin hamid

A pair of runaway slaves fleeing the antebellum South, arriving in Boston. A family of Jews fleeing the Third Reich, arriving in New York. A baby boy fleeing the destruction of his home world of Krypton, arriving in Kansas. Most Americans know what must be done with such people. They must be taken in. Given a chance. Allowed to become an equal part of the ­American story.

How many Americans today would think it right to send the slaves back to the plantation, the Jews back to Europe, the infant Superman back into space? The very idea seems abominable, absurd—un-American.

Why, then, is there such an outcry over accepting refugees from places like Syria? From places that have been bombed into rubble or fallen under the control of psychopathic, sadistic, murdering gangs? What distinguishes these refugees from the slaves, from the Jews, from Kal-El? Read more


Remembering Syed Shamsul Haq


On the 27th of this month, Bangladesh lost one of her most influential writers- Syed Shamsul Haq. The maestro’s work has been lauded since his first publication. He was a journalist, a writer, a lover of words and sentences, and an overall elegant human being. There isn’t a soul he hasn’t touched on his own land, including many abroad. The Star Weekend pays tribute to this extraordinary soul, who will, much like Socrates, Homer and Shakespeare, forever live on through the work and the legacy he has left behind.

Syed Shamsul Haq

(27 December 1935 – 27 September 2016) 

Syed Shamsul Haq was one of the most prolific poets, lyricists and writers of our country.

Haq was born in Kurigram on 27 December 1935. His father, Syed Siddique Husain, was a homeopathic physician. His mother was Halima Khatun. His father came to Kurigram to pursue the practice of medicine. Read more

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