Five Diaries

The Bangalore Review put up this piece of mine on their book recommendations page, on New Year Day 2014, one of my first articles for the year. 

I love yesteryear documentations, as also biographies and memoirs. Here are five of my personal favourites.

1. The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy

Sofia Tolstoy? Tolstoy’s wife? Wasn’t she a nag?  The book, The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy told me otherwise.

These diaries written meticulously for over more than half a century, right from when Sofia Tolstoy was 18, and combined with her late-in-life hobby of photography, documents her life with the great writer. It also shows us the changes in the pre-Czarist Russian country over this period, and Tolstoy’s relationships with the various people around him. This book is different from Sofia’s memoirs, which is titled My Life Continue reading

Vanities of a Bagh: Review of Vanity Bagh by Anees Salim

Nominated for the prestigious Hindu Literary Prize 2013, Vanity Bagh is taking Anees Salim up that ladder, which his writing highly deserves. This review of Vanity Bagh was included in the October 2013 issue of the Hindu Literary Review.

 

“Inside every big Indian city, there is a tiny Pakistan”.

‘Vanity Bagh’, is the story of Little Pakistan, a mohalla, that one can place anywhere on the map of India. As also Mehendi, a Hindu majority neighbourhood which offers foil and balance to Vanity Bagh.

The title, Vanity Bagh, has exquisite connotations. It opens the ‘vanity bag’ of such lives that the urban ‘us’ never thinks about; it speaks of the ‘mango’ people we hear about but never know, it explores the vanities of some big, small people in a dimension of literary exploration. Continue reading

Reading New India : Interview with Emma Dawson Varughese

Image

 

Emma Dawson Varughese’s Reading in India is a one-of-its-kind book on Indian English Writing. She is an independent scholar, who works around language, culture and literature, and looks into ‘World Englishes’. Her first project was ‘Beyond the Post-Colonial’, an interdisciplinary study challenging the orthodoxy of post-colonial literary theory. Her interest in Indian writing in English is a long-standing one. In her new book Reading New India (2013) which is a cultural studies enquiry into post-millennial Indian Writing in English, she largely approaches the topic with an emphasis on the sort of writing that’s being sold and read, irrespective of the reputation among the literary elite. This work brings together Indian Englishes, the changing socio-culture dynamics and the role of literature in English post-2000.  Continue reading

Interview with Tan Twan Eng, Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 winner.

 Image

To him writing meanscreating something that will hopefully last a few generations.’  And Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng’s novels, two of them in five years, look well like on the way to be classics. The Gift of Rain takes place in Penang, before and during the Second World War; The Garden of Evening Mists is set in Cameron , Highlands, during the Malayan Emergency, after the Second World War.

His debut novel The Gift of Rain  hoisted its then fledgling publisher the Myrmidon Books on to the Booker wagon  in 2007, and later his second title The Garden of Evening Mists went on to be shortlisted for the Booker in 2012, and won the Man Asian Literary Prize of the same year. 

Here’s the interview he gave me for the second issue of  the Earthen Lamp Journal, which I co-edit. 

SB: The Garden of Evening Mists is only the second book in the Man Asian Literary Prize history to be awarded to a book written in English, the rest have been translations. How much do you think writing and writers in English as a Second Language have come to be accepted in the English speaking countries in the recent times?

TTE: I can’t speak for those writers you’re referring to, as I write and think and dream in English, but there appears to be a growing interest in novels translated from other languages into English. The titles on the shortlists of the Man Asian Literary Prize over the years seem to indicate this.

Whether a translated novel is accepted and embraced by the English-speaking countries would depend on many factors, including the quality of the writing and its translation. It would also depend on how extensively it’s been promoted, and here the media plays a crucial role in giving more column inches to these translated novels, through reviews and interviews with the authors and translators. Continue reading

Lavanya Sankaran, an Interview

I have a special pleasure and pride in doing this interview.  

Years ago, I was being considered for ghost-writing a series of children’s books for a client from the U.S. I didn’t expect to be selected because I was a newbie and unpublished. But when the selections came, I was the client’s top choice and the reason for it was my sample story. ‘The style quite reminded me of Lavanya Sankaran.’ 

This was in early 2006, and I hadn’t heard of Lavanya back then. But my project co-ordinator Shiv Nair told me, ‘actually that’s quite a compliment, you know, her writing is fabulous’, and went on to tell me about Lavanya and The Red Carpet. Online book sellers were not so popular at that time in my world, and I started looking out for The Red Carpet at every book shop I visited. I finally got hold of it, and fell in love with the writing, and realized what a compliment it was to be compared to her. It was also about the time that I started taking my fiction seriously, but that’s another story. 

I later came across Lavanya again at the Sangam House Residency, she is one of the sponsors there, and then again on Facebook, and kept a look out for her next book. And now here is ‘The Hope Factory’ and Lavanya again. This is the complete unabridged interview she very kindly gave me and an edited version of this appears in the Hindu Literary Review of June. 

Image

Continue reading

Techie to Publisher of Children’s Books, Meet Anushka Ravishankar of Duckbill

Anushka Ravishankar says she was called a techie rather inconsistently, and in phases, from 1983 to 1996, but learning a new programming language each time she came back. She has now reinvented herself, after motherhood, as a writer, and finally, a publisher, at Duckbill.
Anushka photoHer story could inspire you, if you look to use your talent to build a second career. Here is our chitchat. Continue reading

The Reading Hour Odyssey: Interview with Vaishali Khandekar

Nine years with Infosys, Vaishali Khandekar then said good bye to software programs in 2004, and co-founded an English language literary print magazine Reading Hour, which now receives submissions from all over the world, from seasoned as well as aspiring writers, including techies. Vaishali talks about her publishing odyssey and how spouse Arun and she share a love for the word. Continue reading