5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for November 2017

For November and December, let’s revisit the best of the last ten months of short stories from this ongoing series. Why bother with this? For one, I find many short stories, when reread, give us new flavors, textures, nuances, etc., that we might have missed during the first read. For another, I do not want these amazing stories to simply get buried in the archives. So here are the five best-of-the-best from January-May 2017: stories by Karen Russell, Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Leila Aboulela, Robert Olen Butler, Helen Oyeyemi. These were very hard to pick, as you can imagine. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for November 2017

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Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 5

In this month’s installment, let’s look at podcasts related to writing. I am a huge fan of literary podcasts (especially the ones from BBC Radio 3 and 4 and, of course, NPR) because I get to listen to conversations with favorite writers from the comfort of my home, at my convenience, and while I’m multi-tasking. The podcasts I am listing below, however, are ones I have stuck with for more than three years or so. I do not listen to every single episode but I do subscribe to their feeds. One thing I will say upfront about these is that they are not as diverse as I would like them to be. To be clear, I do not mean only in terms of racial or ethnic diversity, though that is also a gap, but diversity in terms of gender identity, class, caste, sexuality, disability, etc. I do hope this will improve over time. Continue reading Booknotes: Favorite Writing How-to Books Part 5

On Cultivating a Reading Habit

Recently, an acquaintance, let us call her X, asked me how she could start a reading habit. Given that she is close to my age, I asked her what kinds of things she liked to read, thinking I might offer her some book suggestions. Consider my surprise when she confessed that she could not remember the last time she had read an entire book. “But I read a lot of news and stuff online,” she said in her own defense. When I shared this with some other reader friends, they admitted to their own difficulties with reading as much as they used to, especially fiction. Some said there was enough drama going on around the world, so they did not feel a need to read fictionalized drama. Some, like X, said they read online and did not care about offline reading. And there were the odd few who said they “prefer to experience life rather than reading about it.” Continue reading On Cultivating a Reading Habit

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for October 2017

Last October, I went the predictable route with a collection of horror stories for Halloween. This month, let’s turn to fairytale retellings, one of my favorite fiction sub-genres. As with many readers and writers, fairytales, with all their enchantment, magic, and fantasy aspects were my first thrilling introduction to storytelling. And these retellings for adults not only subvert the usual, tired tropes — the damsel in distress, the wicked witch, the handsome prince, the evil giant, etc. — but give us more complex and nuanced worlds and characters. Many famous writers have tried their hand, through novels and short stories, at both revisionist retellings of ancient fairytales and creating original ones of their own. We’ll get to the latter another month. For now, let’s take a look at the traditional, well-known ones that have been retold and made entirely new by these writers: Angela Carter, Susan Scarf Merrell, Robert Coover, Jennifer Wortman, and Michael Cunningham. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for October 2017

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