Tag Archives: Ravinder Singh

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.

India and the IMPAC Dublin Awards

The IMPAC Awards around the world

The IMPAC Dublin Awards are generally very odd. The (very long) longlist of 142 books are chosen by libraries from participating countries. How are the libraries chosen? No one knows, but they are described as participating libraries on the FAQs and as public libraries on the title page.

MA Orthofer, as usual, has done a good job of deconstructing the odd process (and odder nominations) that end up in the IMPAC longlist, pointing particularly to the inevitable problem of localism. M Lynx Qualey has pointed to some problems with the IMPAC prize and Arabic literature, and more generally, to the absence of translations.

India’s participation: which library?

India’s nominating library for the IMPAC Dublin Awards is the India International Centre Library. Let us review this choice, briefly. The India International Centre is a privately-owned and run “cultural centre” that contains a library open only to its members. Non-members aren’t even allowed into the library. Members of the India International Centre are a small, exclusive lot – one generally has to know someone (as one often does, in Delhi) and membership is not currently open, nor has been for a while. The library itself is has vast collections, particularly a notable India collection and an art collection. The library collection is selected by a nebulous committee, which may or may not consider member suggestions for the acquisition of new books. There’s no public acquisition policy (although there well may be one accessible to members).

Why is this bizarre? Because IMPAC’s website says they invite public libraries to nominate books. By no standard is this privately owned, privately run, exclusive library a public library. (Note: the main website’s section on the nomination process says “public libraries”. The FAQs do not.) Most other countries, however, have state and public libraries as the nominating entities. Why not the the National Library? The Delhi Public Library? The central but autonomous Rammohun Roy Library?

India’s participation: Nominated books

It should be no surprise to anyone then, that this private library nominated these books from India for the IMPAC award:

  1. Jhumpa Lahiri‘s The Lowland
  2. Amitabha Bagchi‘s This Place
  3. Ravinder Singh‘s Like it Happened Yesterday

Let me explain why I’m incredulous about these choices. First of all, the IIC’s own library OPAC shows that Ravinder Singh’s book has been requested a grand total of zero times. The same goes for Amitabha Bagchi’s This Place. They don’t even have a copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland.

Lahiri, in addition, may come from Indian roots, but is herself an American citizen (she may ‘struggle to feel American‘ but I don’t see her giving up her citizenship and moving to India, where she has never lived. Her novels, indeed, are mostly about the immigrant experience). I find it hard to believe that the IIC could not find a single author from India, who had been published or translated into English in 2013, apart from Bagchi and Singh.

Literary Merit

The IMPAC Awards, though, are not for popularity. They’re awarded based on the library’s opinion of “high literary merit”. I really don’t have much to say about the merit of these three books involved (I haven’t read any of them, to be honest).

I’m not going to include reviews to Lahiri’s The Lowland (it’s been reviewed everywhere, she’s well known in America, where she lives, writes and publishes).

Bagchi’s third book, This Place, has received generally positive reviews. Somak Ghoshal in Livemint said it “outgrows every expectation”. Rajat Choudhuri in Outlook praised the novel’s “purity of … prose married to a clear-eyed storytelling”.

I will, however, express some doubts about Ravinder Singh’s nomination. I know he’s immensely popular, and if that were the basis of the prize there would be no difficulty (200,000 copies were preordered). Interviews and reviews seem to indicate, however, that the book is autobiographical, not fictional, while the IMPAC award is very clearly for a ‘novel’.

In sum, I find both, the choice of library and the choice of books somewhat bizarre. I am also, like M Lynx Qualey, concerned about the absence of translations. This has been a rich year for writing and translation in India – even with the narrow window of a book written in English in 2013 or written between 2009-2013 and translated in 2013, it should have been possible for IIC to nominate atleast one book that wasn’t written in English.

Updates

  • Bruce Humes has a breakdown of the nominations by language.