Tag Archives: Mahesh Rao

The Week in Literature and Translation [Dec 12-18, 2014]


  • Wilma Bantwal’s debut poetry collection in Konkani, ‘Mukhddim‘ was released in Goa
  • Via First Post an excerpt from Aatish Taseer’s new novel, The Way Things Were
  • Via Scroll, an excerpt from Saskya Jain’s Fire under Ash
  • Naga poet, Corrina Khyojano Humtsoe, released her first collection of poems- The Storyteller
  • Via DNA, an excerpt from Siddharth Dasgupta’s ‘Letters from an Indian Summer’
  • A report on the upcoming Murty Classical Library series, which looks fantastic


Columns and Articles

  • Deepanjana Pal (@dpanjana) hits the nail on the head, about everything that’s wrong with this new religion-based anti-rape comic, Shakti. (‘Augmentation’ unnecessary)
  • K Satchidanandan, author and translator, says the most promising young writers in India, in his view, are “all women, hold real promise and have already proved that they are serious about their commitment to writing” – Janice Pariat, Meena Kandasamy, and Indu Menon.
  • Hartosh Singh Bal in Caravan writes about how publishers are coping with right-wing censorship in India.
  • Shikha Malaviya on why Indian poetry matters now, more than ever (yes, this article perpetuates all kinds of stereotyping and foolishness, but if I don’t link it how will you good folk outrage about it?)
  • A column remembering the Malayalam poet, Velliangattan
  • English writing in India has to still find its voice: Aatish Taseer says, in Mid-Day


  • A review of the new comic, Angry Maushi (Angry Aunt) by Abhijit Kini. Maushi fights evil corporate robot ronin.
  • A review of a simply darling little murder mystery set in exotic India (the mystical Orient!) featuring thugs and elephants (what else?) by a British writer . I particularly love the bit about how driving up and down roads in Madhya Pradesh gave her what she needed to write about India (“I felt afterwards there was no way I could have comfortably written the novel without going, though what I got out of it was more impressionistic than specific”). Dear Simon, Go Back!
  • Upamanyu Chatterjee’s new ‘separated at birth’ novel, Fairytales at Fifty, reviewed by Elizabeth Kuruvilla in Mint.
  • A collection of stories for young adults based on speculative fiction and women, Eat the Sky, Drink the Water, reviewed by Bijal Vachharajan in Mint.



  • The Karnataka Sahitya Akademi decided to clear some backlog and announce the Akademi awards for 2011 and 2010. 52 recipients: The Hindu has a story but not a complete list.
  • Odia writers Santanu Kumar Acharya and Pratibha Ray won the Sarala Samman and Kalinga Ratna awards respectively.
  • Vishwanath Tripathi collected his Bhasha Samman award from the Sahitya Akademi on December 18, 2014
  • Gangadhar Meher National Award for Poetry for 2013 goes to Odia poet Soubhagya Kumar Mishra.


  • Mahesh Rao (@mraozing) writes about reading, writing, performing Chekhov, and youth
  • A short interview with Hindi writer Mr. Sanjay Shepherd (in Hindi)
  • A profile of Ronald Vivian Smith, Delhi’s chronicler of the absurd.
  • Marathi author, Chandrakant Khot, passed away.


  • The excellent literary magazine Almost Island is accepting manuscript submissions (English only, translations accepted if previously unpublished) for a competition. Deadline: March 1, 2015.
  • Apparently there were excellent sales of Odia books at the Rajdhani fair in Bhubaneswar, glad to hear it.
  • In DNA a profile of the great indie publisher, Yoda Press, which is run by Arpita Das (@yodakinthestore)
  • Chetan (he of the देती है तो दे वर्ना काट ले fame) Bhagat has, after hurting the tender feelings of the erstwhile royal family of Dumraon, added insult to injury by threatening to inflict his lifelong friendship upon them. No wonder they’ve sent him legal notices.
  • Selling Kannada books: online sales pick up but apparently, most prefer bookshops


  • Mangaluru to host Konkani lit fest on December 20, 2014
  • Patna had a three day Maithili literature festival last week.
  • Aligarh Muslim University had a seminar on Tamil poet, Subramania Bharti
  • The Mumbai Lit Fest was as precious and irrelevant as one expected. Aakar Patel ruefully reports for Mint.

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.”