What is Suprose?

Welcome to Suprose.

Why Su-prose? "Su" in Sanskrit is a prefix for "good". This is a place where we will discuss and analyze prose (with a South Asian Connection) - that which is good, awesome, excellent, and maybe rant about prose that could be better.

Whether you love prose, are a prose expert, or want to learn more about prose, or to put it simply want to have anything to do with prose, this blog is for you.

Read, interact, enjoy and share...

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An interview with Michael Wood

An interview with one of my favorite writers/historians Michael Wood. This was soon after Story of India was published.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Literary Getaways: Book Your Travel. Literally.

A great piece from NPR Books --

If a fancy vacation won't fit into the summer budget this year, a good book can take you on a journey instead.
Bharati Mukherjee's new book, Miss New India, takes the reader on a trip to South AsiaBut her heroine Anjali's India isn't characterized by duty and the Hindu tradition. She defies her parents' wishes, flees her future in an arranged marriage and sets off for the exciting, high-tech city of Bangalore.
"You have slums, still," Mukherjee tells NPR's Andrea Seabrook, "and remnants of the orderly smallness of British cantonment towns from the British Raj days." But there are also the enormous industrial parks and IT campuses, with their glass and steel towers and 21st century perks.
Laura Miller, senior writer and books critic for Salon.com, has two criteria for escapist reading. "I want it to be set some place I don't ordinarily frequent ... either out of the United States, or in a part of the United States I don't know so well," she says. Secondly, for Miller, "a strong storyline" is essential, because of how it can create a powerful sense of place. "It kind of builds a world around as it goes along."
Mukherjee's book does just that. Miller also offers the follow recommendations for books to satisfy your summer wanderlust:
The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
The sequel to The Magician, which Miller calls a combination "a blend of Harry Potter and Donna Tartt's The Secret History," follows the formula of The Lord of the Rings meets Infinite Jest. It's about a group of people who travel from our world to a magical land they've been yearning to visit. But when they get there, it's not as great as they expected and they have to entertain themselves.
Set in the Brazilian Amazon, "it's the story of a scientist, a woman pharmacology researcher who lives in Minnesota, who has to go up the Amazon to find a former mentor of hers who is with this remote tribe researching this possible revolutionary new fertility drug." Miller says she loves it because the female characters are so powerfully written.State Of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, by Sara Gran
"My summer indulgence is: I like detective stories," says Miller, and this is a surreal, metaphysical one. "Claire DeWitt is this surly and difficult detective who uses dreams and divination tools" to solve mysteries. She goes to New Orleans, "and it's an evocative, and very tragic portrait of what happened to that city."
Read/listen to the whole piece  here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Test Your Literature IQ…How Well Do You Really Know Books?

From PWxyz: The news blog of Publishers Weekly--

"Let’s say it’s a slow afternoon at work. Let’s say you like books. You can’t read at work, because that’d be too obvious. So what do you do?
There aren’t enough literary timewasters online (you can only paste so many text chunks into I Write Like before you get angry at seeing you write just like Dan Brown), but there is Sporcle.

Sporcle is a massive quiz website. How massive? 6,000 quizzes (and almost 200,000 user-created quizzes). Luckily for bookworms out there, there’s a category for “Literature.” 

Here are some of our favorite quizzes at PW to get you started:

Just don’t blame us if your work productivity plummets."

From NPR: Skip The Legalese And Keep It Short, Justices Say

From NPR's Morning Edition --

Skip The Legalese And Keep It Short, Justices Say


Most of the U.S. Supreme Court's work is in writing. The words on the page become the law of the land, but the justices have no uniform approach to the way they do that job. Indeed, each seems to have his or her own inspiration or pet peeve.

A Disdain For 'Legalese' Much of this is laid out is a series of interviews conducted with the justices in 2007 and consigned to obscurity on a little-known website. Now those interviews have been published in the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, and they show some of the justices in an unusually revealing light.

Justice Clarence Thomas characterizes writing his own memoir this way: "like a death wish." And Justice Stephen Breyer concedes that the first chapter of his book, Active Liberty, is so dense that he often advises non-lawyers to "skip it" and read the rest.

All of the justices talk about "legalese" in disparaging terms, and many refer to great fiction writers as masters of language.

"The only good way to learn about writing is to read good writing," says Chief Justice John Roberts. That sentiment is echoed by Breyer, who points to Proust, Stendhal and Montesquieu as his inspirations. Justice Anthony Kennedy loves Hemingway, Shakespeare, Solzhenitsyn, Dickens and Trollope.

Justice Thomas says a good legal brief reminds him of the TV show 24. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says one of the great influences on her writing was her European literature professor at Cornell, Vladimir Nabokov — yes, the same Nabokov who later rocked the literary world with his widely acclaimed novel Lolita.

Many of the justices admit to linguistic pet peeves. Kennedy hates adverbs and disdains nouns that are converted to verbs — "incentivize," for example. Scalia readily admits to being a snoot. "He was a man in love with the sound of words," Ginsburg said. "He changed the way I read, the way I write."

"Snoots are those who are nitpickers for the mot juste, for using a word precisely the way it should be used, not dulling it by misuse," said Scalia, adding, "I'm a snoot."

That contrasts with Thomas, who, when asked by interviewer Bryan Garner whether he would describe himself as a word lover, replied: "Not particularly. ... I like buses and football and cars."

Thomas noted that he was raised speaking a dialect called Geechee and wasn't comfortable speaking standard English until he was in his 20s.

Read the full transcript here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ten Rules For Writing Fiction - Guardian

Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray. Inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, The Guardian asked authors for their personal dos and don'ts

Many thanks to Chitra Divakaruni for bringing this to our attention. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When bad people write great books - From Salon.com

When bad people write great books
by Laura Miller in Salon.com Books

A reader, prompted by last week's commentary on whether great books can make you a better person, wrote in to ask a related question. Her favorite author is Charles Dickens; his books have been beacons for her. While she'd like to know more about him, she recalls reading long ago that Dickens behaved badly in his personal life. Should she investigate further, even though she worries that this will lead her to "doubt the impression I always had of Dickens: that he was a kind, sensitive soul who had suffered as a child"?
As if hell-bent on providing further illustration of this dilemma, Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul played the provocateur last week by announcing that he is a better writer than any woman who has ever lived. He offered a variety of reasons for this state of affairs, none of them worth repeating. While his remarks lacked intellectual content, his antics did inspire some thoughtful responses, many of which have pointed out that talented artists can be reprehensible people.
If Dickens sometimes behaved badly, Naipaul is unquestionably a bad man, notorious for his floridly abusive relationships and bigoted ideas. Does this diminish his work? Naipaul's fiction is not to everyone's taste, but the grace of his prose and the power of his early books, especially "A Bend in the River," is hard to deny; I admired much of that novel even as I gritted my teeth over its blinkered depiction of Africans. "A House for Mr. Biswas" is a veritable touchstone for New Yorker critic James Wood, a tough crowd if there ever was one.
Read the full article here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Here Are 15 Excellent Tips for Writing a Book - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire

Here Are 15 Excellent Tips for Writing a Book - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire


Longtime Wired writer Steve Silberman is about to start work on his first book, a piece of non-fiction based on an article he wrote in 2001 about Asperger's syndrome, and he's solicited advice from 22 authors about the process of bookwriting. The responses run the gamut from practical advice about how to get organized to ruminations on the art of writing long. These 15 struck us particularly useful, and applicable to both fiction and non-fiction.

The 15 tips are worth reading, we know many of these but tend to forget them along our journey.

You can read them here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tête-à-Tête with V.V. Ganeshananthan

V.V. Ganeshananthan, an exceptional Sri Lankan American prose writer, is the author of Love Marriage, a novel.  Written in a lyrical and catchy vignette style, this is the story of a a daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants and her journey through her family's roots and politics. 

A fiction writer and journalist, Ganeshananthan is a graduate of Harvard College, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the M.A. program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Sugi currently teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan, blogs for Sepia Mutiny and continues to write fiction. 

From her interview with Suprose--

1. Tell us about the genesis of your book Love Marriage.

I wrote the first pages of Love Marriage—which are still the first pages of Love Marriage!—for a writing course I was taking with Jamaica Kincaid. She liked to have us read our work aloud in class, and when it was my turn, the class responded very positively to the story and wanted more. They were very kind about it. I wasn’t thinking of writing a book, particularly. Or to be more precise, I wanted to write a book, but I had no idea that that was the beginning of one. I’m grateful that I was part of a community of readers and writers that encouraged and supported me.

2. What were your biggest challenges writing this book?

It was a challenge to structure it, and to carve out the parts that weren’t necessary. It’s got lots of tiny bits, and each one had to justify itself. In one rewrite, I got rid of a character I thought was redundant; in another, I added one in. (The Kumaran character wasn’t in the first draft. It was a lot of work to invent him and put him in.) And of course, writing the historical parts was hard. A couple of scholars I trust were incredibly helpful. There are places where I chose to diverge from history and fact, but I wanted to know what they were and to have good reasons for doing it, and they really helped me to hash it out.

3. I loved the format of this book. It was almost like a thematic collection of flash fiction. Why did you choose to write in this style? will you do it again?

Thanks so much for the compliment! I’m glad you liked it. Your question very generously presumes a conscious decision. At first, it was more subconscious—that was just how it started when I was noodling around. But then it made sense to continue that way because it’s a family story. What family gives you the whole story, let alone in order? So the structure of the book mimics the long and fragmented process of listening that families require.

4. Do you have any one favorite author, a role model? What do you like best about them?

I’ve been fortunate to have some life-altering teachers, and they were always role models for me. So no one favorite author—more like tons of them. I read a lot of Ondaatje as a kid, and that was certainly formative. I’m excited for his new book. His language is so beautiful. I also love Shyam Selvadurai’s work, and teach Funny Boy in my political fiction class. It has such a great structure. And I always find myself returning to The Sound and the Fury. I also read the news obsessively. I find many things about journalism very useful for my fiction.

5. What do you believe are the biggest challenges faced by aspiring fiction writers today?

There’s a lot of noise about how publishing and reading and libraries and writing and fiction and newspapers and education and all things sane are waning rather than waxing. The economy is terrible and nobody cares about art only about security and the Rapture is going to be any minute now and who cares about your book or about other humans generally.


To withstand what is sometimes a kind of gleeful anticipation of entropy is hard, especially when you agree that the sainted institutions of reading and writing need defending. As a kid I had a copy of this cartoon—a guy on the street holding up a sign that said something like THE END IS NOT NEAR WE MUST LEARN TO COPE. It’s hard to read and write when people are always announcing how little your reading and writing are going to matter. As a kid, I didn’t hear anything like that, and now I hear it all the time. But I’m heartened that so many people are still doing it and insisting that it does matter and encouraging others to do it too.

For me, the trick seems to be not to defeat myself before I’m even out the gate. I try to do whatever I want pretending as seriously as I can that there are no obstacles to that. Of course, sometimes harsh reality intrudes, and then you have to deal with whatever problem, but as much as possible, I want saying no to be someone else’s job, not mine. So for me maybe the biggest challenge is to not listen to that alleged apocalypse knocking on the door. Although I’m more grateful than I expected for the deluge of Rapture jokes.

6. Are you working on your next book project? When will it be published? Would you like to say something about it?

I’ve ceased working on my second book because the corrected forecast of the Rapture says it’s the end of the world in October. Just kidding. I am working on it; I don’t know when it’ll be published. Granta published a bit of it last year, and you can find that here: http://www.granta.com/Magazine/Granta-109-Work/Hippocrates/1