Showing posts from March, 2014

In search of meaning Kamila Shamsie - A God In Every Stone

Kamila Shamsie is among the brightest stars in the firmament of Pakistani writing in English. Author of five novels, including In The City By The SeaBroken Verses and Burnt Shadows, Kamila has placed many of her novels in Karachi, depicting various facets of the city; Her latest novel is A God In Every Stone.
Pakistani writing in English has generated much interest of late, which, Kamila says, has been a recent phenomenon. “When I first published my novel in 1998, it was actually when things were starting. Nadeem Aslam published his first novel in 1992. Mohsin Hamid’s first book came out in 2008. Uzma Aslam Khan’s first book came out in 2001. There was already a feeling that something is beginning. I want to see more women. The writers you hear most about are writers who are men, and they are fantastic, but we need more women writers.” A God In Every Stone is set in Peshawar between 1914, the beginning of World War I, till 1930. It follows the lives of Vivian Rose Spencer, a British a…

Wang Wei: White Hairs

Once a tiny child now an old man. 
 White hairs to match the soft down. 
 How the heart gets hurt by life. 
 Beyond the Gateless Gate’s 
 Where craving ends.

Wang Wei (699-759) and also known by other names such as Wang Youcheng, was a Tang DynastyChinesepoetmusicianpainter, and statesman. He was one of the most famous men of arts and letters of his time. Many of his poems are preserved, and twenty-nine were included in the highly influential 18th century anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems.

The Spectacular Seth

A Suitable Girl, the much anticipated follow-up to your most famous book, A Suitable Boy, is scheduled for publication in 2016. Why the sequel? The success A Suitable Boy enjoyed led my publisher to suggest, some 20 years back, that I write a sequel to it. But at that point in time I was somewhat written out and needed to lie fallow. Other things rose to the top of my mind: I wrote An Equal MusicTwo Lives, and I really thought that I was finished with the characters in A Suitable Boy—despite the fact that there are hints in the book to the contrary. A few years ago, confronted by the political turmoil in India, and the whole region, I got to thinking what Maan or Lata would make of these events. I realized Lata would be 80 years old and Maan would be much the same or older. I thought that instead of taking up the story from the 1950s, which would bore me, why not set the sequel in the present. As a result of that I could not only talk about the changes or non-changes in India from th…

Vikram Chandra: Love and Longing in Bombay (extract)

Considering the length of Subramaniam's service, it was remarkable that he still came to the Fisherman's Rest. When I started going there, he had been retired for six years from the Ministry of Defence, after a run of forty-one years that had left him a joint-secretary. I was young, and I had just started working at a software company which had its air-conditioned and very streamlined head offices just off the Fountain, and I must confess the first time I heard him speak it was to chastise me. He had been introduced to me at a table on the balcony, sitting with three other older men, and my friend Ramani, who had taken me there, told me that they had been coming there for as long as they had worked and longer. Subramaniam had white hair, he was thin, and in the falling dusk he looked very small to me, the kind of man who would while away the endless boredom of his life in a bar off Sasoon Dock, and so I shaped him up in my mind, and weighed him and dropped him. I should h…

Palimpsest Regained - The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie


An Interview with Alice Munro

The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro’s collection of stories forthcoming from Knopf in November, will be her twelfth volume in a distinguished career that has spanned more than fifty-five years and has garnered resounding international acclaim. Her fiction has helped to extend the known boundaries of the short story genre and our appreciation of its potential. “Alice Munro deserves the Nobel Prize,” proclaimed Time magazine, upon listing her name in its 2005 roster of the world’s one hundred most influential people. Munro, according to Mona Simpson, author of Time’s profile, “understands reality in a complex, capacious way, leaving intact its dimensions of dream and wonder, its shadings of the fantastic.” Munro’s eleven previous collections of short stories include: Dance of the Happy Shades; Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You; The Beggar Maid (first published in Canada as Who Do You Think You Are?); The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; Friend of My Youth; Open Secrets; S…

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

IF you’ve never seen one, it’s almost impossible to capture the mesmerizing allure of a classic Japanese garden — and even standing for the first time in front of a bed of raked gravel can be a challenge. No vivid colors. No sweeping borders. No topiary animals. No shooting fountains. No fun, it would seem. Still, the traditional Japanese garden, esoteric as it is, has an ancient and undeniable appeal. It’s about secrets, perspectives, initiation, memory and time. It may take ages for a Japanese garden to come to maturity, to say nothing of the gardener. And yet, for all its mystery, the Japanese garden reveals itself as a capacious symbol of the human soul, replete with exactly the kinds of “borrowed landscapes” we live with. But we call them our personal histories.

The crucial action in “The Garden of Evening Mists,” a strong, quiet novel by Tan Twan Eng, a Malaysian writer who now lives part of the year in Cape Town, takes place in Malaya just after World War II. The beautiful garde…

A Death in the Family - My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard – extract