Published: Booknotes: The Good Immigrant (The Aerogram)

One of the finest essay collections I have read this year is ‘The Good Immigrant’. Edited by writer Nikesh Shukla, the collection has essays from 21 Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) creatives from across the UK. These are writers, actors, comedians, and more, writing about their experiences growing up as immigrants or children of immigrants. A review by me was just published over at The Aerogram — a US-based South Asian art, literature, life and news site. Funded by, among others, J K Rowling, and blurbed by, among others, Zadie Smith, it came out after the Brexit vote and during the peak madness of the US presidential election. Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) creatives (writers, actors, comedians, and more) from across the UK came together to write and share their experiences as immigrants or children of immigrants. Their themes, however, are universal and, having been an immigrant across various countries myself, I found much to identify with and ponder. Continue reading Published: Booknotes: The Good Immigrant (The Aerogram)

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Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 4

Happy International Translation Day. Perhaps you are wondering why there is yet another Hallmark-like day for this. I had to look it up too. Wikipedia, that font of never-ending rabbit holes, er, wisdom, says that FIT (International Federation of Translators) had designated this day in 1991 for the official celebration of translation because it is also the feast of St. Jerome, the Bible translator considered the patron saint of translators. Of course, the celebration is for all countries, not just Christian ones. And, earlier this year, the UN also passed a resolution declaring September 30 as International Translation Day to recognize the role of professional translation in bringing nations together. At the outset, let me say that I believe all of us, readers and writers alike, are translators. The very act of reading involves translating and interpreting the writer’s meaning and intent. The act of writing involves translating and interpreting one’s own meaning of everything we have ourselves read, seen, heard, experienced. So, translation to me is not simply the act of converting words from Language A to Language B. And, as such, I have found the following books on translation important to me as a reader and a writer above anything else. Continue reading Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 4

Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 3

In 2014, I wrote a six-part series about bibliomemoirs published from 1990-onwards till early-2014. This month, we have three bibliomemoirs featured in that series — Rebecca Mead on George Eliot; Alexander McCall Smith on W H Auden; and Janet Malcolm on Chekhov. First, why bibliomemoirs? Read Part 1 of the series for that. For now, let me share Joyce Carol Oates’ definition: “Rarely attempted, and still more rarely successful, is the bibliomemoir — a subspecies of literature combining criticism and biography with the intimate, confessional tone of autobiography. The most engaging bibliomemoirs establish the writer’s voice in counterpoint to the subject, with something more than adulation or explication at stake.” Second, why bibliomemoirs as writing how-to? I find that when we dive deep into how a particular literary work has been written — peeling back the layers of biography, history, writing process, narrative structure, etc. — we gain a much deeper understanding of both the work and the art and craft of writing. It helps, of course, when the literary work is one we also enjoy and admire. Continue reading Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 3

Published: After ‘Dunkirk’, a Starter List of Books (Scroll.in)

When the movie, ‘Dunkirk’, was released in India, despite the “whitewashing” controversy and to the surprise of many of India’s movie industry experts, it drew large crowds. And these same experts spoke out more than usual about the lack of Indians in the narrative, given India’s critical role in both the Great Wars. Before we go about censuring or educating the world on why India should not have been shortchanged, it would behoove us — Indians everywhere — to understand India’s role in these Great Wars better for ourselves. Continue reading Published: After ‘Dunkirk’, a Starter List of Books (Scroll.in)

marginalia

Marginalia: 10 Indian (or Indian Origin) Women Writers for 2017

Facebook reminds me that last year, about this time, I was complaining about how there were several writers of Indian origin winning literary awards, being reviewed favorably, etc., but all were men. This year, the tide has turned just a bit. Here are some terrific recent releases on my radar by women writers — Indian or of Indian origin. And they have all tackled weighty, important themes beyond immigration/assimilation. Note: I tend to favor the literary adult genre, as you may know if you follow my writing here. Though mostly fiction, the list also has a couple of essay collections and a historical non-fiction book. No short story collections, interestingly, though. Continue reading Marginalia: 10 Indian (or Indian Origin) Women Writers for 2017