Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year

HAPPY 2011
We of the vermin underworld wave antennae, click pincers, flutter our wings and wave our tails to wish you all a fabulous 2011. We the heroes of Riddle of the Seventh Stone are waiting for you in every online bookstore (and regular ones too) Meet us, love us, take us home and introduce your friends to us. But please, say no to harmful chemical pesticides

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the brave new world of books in 2011

What will the world of books and reading be like in the year to come? Crystal ball gazing with authors and publishers threw up a wealth of perspectives. The toughest part was to guide the experts with the right prompts and then assimilate the many wise and witty things they had to say on a subject close to their hearts. And then, I had to steel my own heart and organize and reduce everything into a concentrated and coherent (hopefully) whole. More fluffy fast reads and novels on the cell phone hijacking the publishingindustry? Here's our take published in Bangalore Mirror:

2011 will bring “at least a few new novels that will electrify, provoke, move, and entertain,” predicts Anosh Irani (Dahanu Road). Shreekumar Varma (Maria’s Room) foresees more “artistic— but not necessarily `literary’ people entering the world of books.” Anita Roy of Zubaan Books is “looking forward to the next in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies trilogy. We’ll see more high-quality, non-fiction such as Samanth Subramanian’s Following Fish, Ramchandra Guha’s Makers of Modern India and Mahmood Farooqui’s book Besieged on Delhi in 1857.”

Shreekumar Varma notes that “nonfiction rules now. Short stories, poetry and plays have to beg their way in; a worldwide trend not restricted to India.” Gita Aravamudan (Unbound: Indian Women @ Work) feels “the longevity, importance and popularity of a book depends not on the genre but on the quality of the work itself.”

Manjul Bajaj (Come, Before Evening Falls) welcomes the new spate of quality English translations of regional fiction with “mainstream publishing houses such as Penguin and Random House India throwing their hat into the ring.”

Read the full story in Bangalore Mirror

Sunday, December 26, 2010

a cock-eyed look at the year gone by

With apologies to Dickens, 2010 was the best of times and the worst of times.

Scamsters ruled the roost, and their misdeeds grew more boldly outrageous, delighting crooks and disheartening the common Indian citizen. With TV, radio and cable channels a dime-a-dozen screaming for attention, the best way to grab wayward eyeballs (lacking grey matter to back them up?) was to highlight the heights of unscrupulousness. The Adarsh idealists, the conmen allegedly out to make fast mega crores from the CWG, every crook and their nearest and dearest grabbed centrestage until some media darlings stole the show by getting themselves entangled in dubious tapes. Days before the opening of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the nation’s prestige tottered with the collapse of a vital footbridge. Accommodation for athletes from 71 countries was reportedly not ready, and UK inspectors turned up their noses saying the facilities were “unfit for human habitation”. The preparations for India's largest ever sporting event raised doubts of mismanagement of crores of rupees for years.

Cheering the hearts of every patriotic Indian, 2010 proved that the fine art and science of hera-pheri isn’t restricted to our countrymen. The world over, basic human nature oozed through superficial veneers of principles and honesty, and people everywhere cheated and lied just like us. In the world of sports, Tiger Woods’ alleged extra-marital shenanigans, cricket match fixing, use of banned performance-enhancing drugs and other unsporting concerns overshadowed the ideals of fair play and sportsmanship. The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks kicked up a ruckus by releasing a whopping avalanche of secret documents with details of incidents of corruption, friendly fire, civilian casualties and deaths relating to the war in Afghanistan. Among the biggest leaks in US military history, its aftershocks rocked even the White House.

Read my complete essay published in Sunday Herald

Monday, December 13, 2010

valuable compendium of Indian thought

I recently read Ramachandra Guha's Makers of Modern India. This book is especially helpful for many of us who are keen to know more about our great thinkers and leaders: their ideas and thoughts and writings. The rushed pace of modern life leaves few of us with enough time to delve through huge volumes of thought provoking writings of our great leaders and nation builders. Prof. Ramachandra Guha has selected and compiled excerpts along with lucid and learned introductory notes to help today's readers gain insights into this rich heritage.
My full review of the book appears in Sunday Herald.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dahanu Road, by Anosh Irani; book review

Anosh Irani takes his readers on a soul-searching journey though the expansive story of three generations of the Irani clan and their relations with the oppressed Warli tribals, who were the original owners of the flourishing orchards in Dahanu on the outskirts of Bombay. Anna’s tea shack personifies the ethos of Dahanu, a place where “languages bashed into each other, on some days a train wreck, on other days a tasty mix bouncing into temple bells, sinking into yellow laddoos and other sweetmeats, the Jains trying not to let any of the languages defile them, the Marwaris welcoming the defiling and murder of words, the sulphur dioxide from the thermal power plant coating the languages, giving them an acidic smell.” The Zoroastrian Iranis with “the power of centuries” behind them have fled from oppression from the Arabs in Iran to come to India and rise once again as doctors, lawyers, artists, businessmen and the landlords of Dahanu.

This is one lovely read I enjoyed, the best among many good reads in recent times. Read my published review in Deccan Herald