Tag Archives: Bilal Tanweer

The Week in Literature and Translation [Dec 5-11 2014]

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Kindle Magazine’s Biannual issue is out.
  • Books for 2015 – Arunava Sinha talks to publishers about what they’re looking forward to (via Scroll)
  • A new comic book from India has a heroine who was gangraped and develops a Hindu goddess alter ego. Notwithstanding mountains of evidence, commentary, writing and literature, the American author ‘discovered’ “that rape and sexual violence in India was a cultural issue, and that it was backed by patriarchy, misogyny, and people’s perceptions.” only after talking to one cop following the Dec 16 gangrape (TW:graphic details behind the link). I’m not holding my breath on this one.
  • A new volume of photographs on the Kannada writer, Kuvempu, has been released.
  • Assamese writer Bipul Regon will be publishing a collection of poetry in Malayalam.
  • ‘Draupadi’ – An excerpt from ashort story by Mahasweta Devi, translated from the Bengali by Spivak
  • An excerpt from Ajaz Ashraf’s new novel, The Hour Before Dawn
  • Penguin released a translation of Nirmal Verma’s A Rag Called Happiness, by Kuldip Singh (I missed this one, it was out in November).

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

Reviews

  • Reviews of Janice Pariat’s new novel, Seahorse, are out: here’s Urvashi Bahuguna in Helter Skelter (she’s convinced the book is “her story”), Jayathi Madhukar in Bangalore Mirror,
  • A review of Arundhathi Subramaniam’s collection of poetry, When God is a Traveller, by Sumana Roy in IE
  • A review of Ghulam Nabi Bhat (Shahid)’s collection of short stories, Ailaan Jaari Hai, in the Kashmir Reader.
  • Rakshanda Jalil reviews Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s great The Sun that Rose from the Earth (“every single one of its 600-odd pages is a connoisseur’s delight, brimful with evocative detail and flavoursome with the choicest of Urdu verses”)
  • KK Srivasatava reviews Ramakanta Rath’s collection of poetry, Frontier Lyrics
  • K Santhosh has a new review of KR Meera’s Hangwoman
  • Vaishna Roy says Aatish Taseer’s The Way We Were is “a book of ideas”
  • Ramya Sarma on Deepti Kapoor’s A Bad Character: “This is not an especially pleasant book, nor one that will endear the characters and their behaviour to its readers, but it is a strangely compelling one.”
  • Anusha Parthasarthy reviews Saad Bin Jung’s Matabele Dawn, set in India and Africa.
  • JB Rose reviews Anita Nair’s Idris, Keeper of the Light
  • A review of Australian author Brian Stoddart’s new murder novel, set in Chennai
  • Pratik Kanjilal on the casual and sexual violence in Upamanyu Chatterjee’s new book
  • Arunava Sinha deconstructs Ravinder Singh’s slightly creepily titled Your Dreams Are Mine Now

NEWS, AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • A large number of Hindi writers were given awards for literature by the Uttar Pradesh government. Notably, Doodhnath Singh was given Bharat Bharti Samman (UP’s highest honour) and Mamta Kalia received the Lohia Sahitya Samman
  • Bilal Tanweer won the Shakti Bhatt Prize 2014 – he couldn’t come to collect it India, so Shovon Chowdhury delivered an acceptance speech for him.

People

  • Mirza Waheed talks to Nandini Nair of Businessline on cricket, Kashmir and growing up. In Greater Kashmir, he talks about the process of writing: “Memory informs the imagination, and imagination may sometimes colour, even shape and bend memory.”
  • Aditi Mehta on meeting Vikram Seth
  • Kannada writer Devanuru Mahadeva on why he’s refusing to chair the Kannada Sammellan next year, and on the status of the language generally (“Kannada is being strangled to death”)
  • Goan writer Manohar Shetty on why he writes about the world of animals, in a conversation with Esther Elias in the Hindu.
  • Ahmedaband will celebrate the 122nd birth anniversary of Gujarati writer Dhumketu (Gaurishankar Govardhandas Joshi)
  • In the Hindu, an interview with David Davidar on his choices in a new anthology of Indian stories
  • Chetan “Deti hai to de varna kat le” Bhagat says, “I am not doing sequels like J.K. Rowling. #Blessed

Publishing and Sales

  • A profile of the Gandhi Book Store in Mumbai, via Bombaywalla.
  • Amar Chitra Katha, which publishes Hindu mythology based comics for children, has a new website.
  • Nepali writer Buddhi Sagar’s anticipated second novel, फिरफिरे was to come out on March 8th, but has been delayed
  • Can Byomkesh Bakshi become a new franchise (like…..Bond?) Sandipan Deb in Livemint.
  • Neel Mukherjee on how Western publishing views Indian writing: some choice words on the sari border/spices/bangles book covers and the obsession with classifying Indian novels as ‘saga’s.
  • The President of India’s memoirs are going to be published online only for a week, before print publication begins. This seems to have created a row.

Events

  • Here‘s where you can get free passes to the Raipur Sahitya Fest. The event seems to have run into controversy already.
  • Here‘s the list of speakers for the Zee Jaipur Lit Fest.
  • All India Radio is organising an event for the former Prime Minister Vajpayee’s birthday. He wrote some fairly pedestrian political poetry. Meanwhile this year, two fine women writers died (Turaga Janaki Rani, Rajam Krishnan), Kedarnath Singh won the Jnanpith Award, and it did nothing. Jai ho.
  • The Kolkata Book Fair this year is focusing on literature from…Britain.
  • A performance of Pranabandhu Kar’s play “Eka Maati Aneka Akasha” (Odia) in Bhubaneswar in commemoration of his birth centenary. Also there’s a new website on him.
  • Event | National Book Fair | Puducherry | Dec 19 |Link

The Week in Literature and Translation [November 21-27, 2014]

NEW BOOKS, TRANSLATIONS AND WRITING

  • Popular romance writer Ravinder Singh released his new book now, which has the (slightly menacing) title, Your Dreams are Mine Now.
  • An excerpt from Yatrik by Arnab Ray (in English) via DNA.
  • New in paperback is this morass by MJ Peters, embracing every stereotype of colonial India that there is. Elephants? Thuggees? Kali-worshipping cult? Maharajas? Got them all.
  • Upamanyu Chatterjee (of English, August fame) has released his new book, Fairy Tales at Fifty.
  • The third edition of India’s queer mag, Gaysi, will be released in Delhi on 28 November.
  • The Murty Classical Library, run from Harvard, is set to release its first five translations of Indian classics in January 2015.
  • A new set of rare recordings of the Bengali poet and author Shakti Chattopadhyay singing and reciting his work has been released.
  • The Letter‘, an excerpt from Mirza Waheed’s The Book of Gold Leaves, is on Scroll.
  • Easterine Kire’s When the River Sleeps is now available as an Ebook.
  • This is not new, but I came across archives of Mahfil, an academic journal that has published a host of translations of rare Indian writing – all online, freely accessible
  • David Davidar has a new anthology of short stories out.
  • Watch this short film and listen to a recitation of Anup Sethi’s poem, ‘Joote’ (in Hindi)
  • Darius Cooper’s book of short stories (in English) is outThe Fuss About Queens and Other Stories

COLUMNS, ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

Columns and Articles

  • Ajay Kamalakaran writes about a 1960s performance of the Ramayana by the Moscow Childrens’ Theatre.
  • Jerry Pinto for the Guardian has a list of his 6 best novels about Mumbai (all English)
  • Ashoka University professor Jonathan Gil Harris on bringing Shakespeare to India.
  • In the Indian Quarterly, Zeeshan Ahmad talks about the rise of Bangla comics.
  • Swarajya magazine, a right wing publication that usually contains rubbish , now has a column on literary translation. Where is this going?

Reviews

  • The unstoppable AG Noorani reviews Jashn e Khusrau, a new collection of writing on Sufi mystics published by the Aga Khan Trust.
  • Gargi Gupta reviews Shubha Menon’s The Second Coming (predictable romance with gender stereotypes, apparently)
  • Deepa Dharmadhikari reviews Mirza Waheed’s The Book of Gold Leaves for Mint.
    • Mahvesh Murad has reviewed in the Dawn, as well
  • Vivek Menezes reviews two books on the Goan diaspora -Selma Carvalho’s A Railway Runs Through: Goans Of British East Africa, 1865-1980, and Reena Martins’Bomoicar: Stories Of Bombay Goans, 1920-1980
  • Priya Gangwani reviews two Indian YA novels with queer themes, for Scroll: Himanjali Sarkar’s Talking of Muskaan, and Payal Dhar’s Slightly Burnt

NEWS, AWARDS, PEOPLE, PUBLISHING, EVENTS

Awards

  • In Karnataka, Lalit Kala Akademi award winners returned the prize money of Rs.10,000, suggesting that it was not enough.
  • Pakistani writer Bilal Tanweer won the Shakti Bhatt Prize for his novel, The Scatter Here Is Too Great (in English)
  • I wrote about the bizarre choices made by the IIC for India’s nominations to the IMPAC Dublin award.
  • Writer, and Telugu actor Gollapudi Maruti Rao has been selected for the Loknayak Foundation Award 2015 for his contribution to the Telugu cinema and literature.

People

  • American poet Vijay Seshadri speaks to Deccan Chronicle about learning to love poetry. He spoke with Forbes mag too.
  • Swati Chandra interviews Moharram Ali, Varanasi’s weaver-poet, for Indian Express.
  • Sridala Swami interviews American poet, Kazim Ali, for Mint.
  • Today is Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s 107th birth anniversary. Follow @sanjay_dixit and @iamrana for live tweets (in Hindi) of some of his poetry.
  • In a disgraceful incident, the Dalit poet ND Rajkumar was silenced by other people at a Sahitya Akademi event, when he said he didn’t belong to a particular literary tradition. Read him on the event, his publisher, and one of his translators.
  • Bushra Alvi interviews Zafar Anjum on his new book on Urdu poet Iqbal.
  • Assamese writer Leena Sarma explains why her eighth novel will be in English and not Assamese.
  • Devika Rangachari on her new YA book, Didda and I, on the Duckbill blog.
  • What has Arundhati Roy been up to, since The God of Small Things? Andrew Anthony finds out.

Publishing and Bookselling

  • Tata has closed 10 outlets of its retail chain Landmark, which sold, amongst other things, books. There are only 11 stores left open now.
  • After being sued by the erstwhile royal family of Dumrao for his unflattering depiction of them in his novel, Chetan Bhagat is now being charged with plagiarism, by a Bihar scholar.
  • Indians love Archie comics.
  • Cambridge University will be putting some of its Sanskrit collections online.
  • An interview with Arpita Das, who runs indie press Yoda Books. Yoda just turned ten.

Events

  • PublicCon 2014 will be held on Dec 3, 2014 at FICCI in Delhi, with the theme ‘Publishing across Platforms’
  • The Times of India’s organised LitFest in Mumbai invited Tarun Tejpal, a journalist and editor now facing rape charges and out on bail, to speak at a panel titled ‘The Tyranny of Power’. Following much protesting, he was disinvited – the organiser said she didn’t want any ‘extraneous noise‘ at the event.
  • A description of Bihar’s Hindi poetry fest, the Bharatiya Kavita Samaroh.
  • Dec 2-4 – A seminar on Literary Activism at Jadavpur University and Presidency University.

The Shakti Bhatt Prize shortlist, 2014

The shortlist for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014, has been released. The winner will be announced in November, 2014 and the award panel consists of Indian authors Amit Chaudhuri, Aatish Taseer and Mridula Koshy.

The Shakti Bhatt Prize was constituted in memory of editor and writer Shakti Bhatt, and consists of a cash award of Rs. 1,00,000. The initial announcement makes it clear that “Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.” (although, as is usual among the English-speaking literati in India, no reasons for this linguistic chauvinism are disclosed). The Prize was first awarded in 2008; on an inital skim through the shortlist, I can’t find a single book in translation that has been nominated.

The shortlist and a quick rundown follows:

  1. A Bad Character by Deepti Kapur (Random House/Penguin) – RH’s blurb describes this novel (written in English) as “A novel about female desire, A Bad Character shows us a Delhi we have not seen in fiction before: a city awash with violence, rage and corruption.” Prashansa Taneja reviewed it in the Guardian, praising it for being frank while regretting that “somewhere along the way it gets tangled in a web of cliches.” Other reviews here: Charlotte Runcie in The Telegraph, Rajvi Glasbrooke-Griffiths in the Wales Art Review, Faiza Khan at her blog, Gargi Gupta in DNA, and Somak Ghoshal in Livemint.
  2. The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer (Random House/HarperCollins) – Bilal Tanweer is a Pakistani writer, a faculty member at the LUMS college. This is again, a novel written in English. Claire Chambers’ review in the Dawn praises ‘glistening fragments’ of the novel while noting that “at times it appears too self-consciously straining to be literary.” Other reviews here: Evan Bartlett in The Independent, Jess Row in the New York Times, Hirsh Sawhney in The Guardian, Omair Ahmed in Time Out Delhi, Paromita Chakrabarti in the Indian Express.
  3. The Vanishing Act by Prawin Adhikari (Rupa) – Prawin Adhikari is a Nepali writer, and this, his debut collection of short stories was written in English and published in India. Thomas Bell’s review in Nepali literary journal La.Lit said it was “the work of a talented writer and a deeply serious and sensitive interrogator of modern Nepal.” The book has been on the longlist for the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Stories. Other reviews here: Melani P Kumar in the Deccan Herald, Sophia Pande in Nepali Times, Carol Andrade in Afternoon Despatch and Courier.
  4. a cool, dark place by Supriya Dravid (Random House India) – This is the only novel on the list that I’ve read, and frankly, I was surprised to see it here. Anita Roy was absolutely right when she wrote for Tehelka that the author tends to overwrite, and “uses five metaphors where one would do.” The book, nevertheless, has been on the longlist for the Tata Literature Live First Novel award. You can read an extract via IBNlive or Wall Street Journal India. Other reviews: Akhila Krishnamurthy in The Hindu, Vivek Tejuja in The New Indian Express, Parvati Sharma in the Hindustan Times.
  5. The Competent Authority by Shovon Chaudhury (Aleph Book Co) – This, in my view, is probably the strongest contender on  the list, with nearly uniformly good reviews. A sharp, satirical novel about Indian bureaucracy. Reviews: Jaya Bhattacharji Rose in The Hindu, Somak Ghoshal in LiveMint, Deepanjana Pal in First Post, Ajachi Chakrabarti in Tehelka.
  6. The Smoke is Rising by Mahesh Rao (Daunt Books and Random House India) – An interview with the author in Open Road Review (by Kulpreet Yadav) reveals that he began with the question of “what Malgudi would look like today” (an ambitious path, undoubtedly). Asawari Ghatage gave it a reasonably positive review in Time Out Delhi, but Somak Ghoshal at Livemint was more cautious, saying that it “remains a novel full of promise waiting to be seized, a failing that is not unusual with first novels.”