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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Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tête-à-Tête with Manjiri Prabhu


Manjiri Prabhu is a talented mystery writer based in Pune, India. Her books have been published in India and the US. Some of her works have won awards and commendations from prestigious organizations worldwide.

Her published books include a. A Symphony of Hearts, Silver in the Mist, The Cosmic Clues, The Astral Alibi, and The Cavansite Conspiracy. She is also the author of Roles: Reel and Real, a non-fiction book on the role of women in Hindi films.

Manjiri Prabhu is currently working on two young adult novels, The Gypsies at Noelle’s Retreat and The Gypsies on the Eurail

By day, Manjiri is a Children’s Television Producer and a short filmmaker. In her spare time she is deeply involved in Animal Welfare and well-being. She took some time off from her busy schedule to answer some questions about her writing life for Suprose. Here are some excerpts.

Why did you become a writer? Why do you write?
I write because it is my instinct. I can’t help but write. And I discovered this urge very early in life. What channelised this urge on a conscious level were my early reading habits. I grew up, like many of us, on Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie books. And I dreamt of creating fictitious worlds which would seem more real than real. I knew at age seven that I wanted to be a writer and since then I’ve been struggling to be one.

What motivates you, makes you want to write?

Firstly, the need to tell a story. And secondly, the craving to create memorable characters, a world which is entirely mine but which will grow beyond me and last beyond me.  Ultimately a human being lives on in the form of memories which are passed on from generation to generation. I would love to create a world which would create similar warm memories in the minds of the readers. If the readers would allow my characters into their hearts, and if my novels could live on, side-by-side with their own real-life, personal memories, I would feel honoured and blessed. This thought gives me a sense of satisfaction and prods me to write more.

What are the tools you use to inspire yourself? As in writing excercises, music and such?
Walking and lots of it. Then music, free-style dancing, playing with my dogs, interacting with my family and friends and lastly, whenever possible, traveling. Other than these, life in itself and its mysteries is a huge inspiration. The many unanswered questions, the twists and turns, the unpredictable and the unexpected, the enigma – everything to do with life is a full-on inspiration to write.

You write primarily mystery, why did you choose this genre?  
Early in life I was influenced by Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. This served a dual purpose – it not only provided me with my first inspiration to write but also handed me the genre on a platter. I loved mystery and I loved the way the children would have adventures and enjoy themselves. I was an avid reader and I knew then that this was what I wanted to write about – fun, adventure-filled stories which claimed that anything was possible, that good always triumphs over evil. On a deeper level, the mysteries introduced me to the games people play and the depth of the human psychology. Mystery is a genre which may appear blatantly simple at face value. But it has so much more to offer.  It is an all-encompassing genre – it absorbs other genres within it. The insights into a human psyche, political upheavals, societal attitudes and issues, gender complexes, relationships and many more subjects can fall within the realm of this story-telling. Mystery writing provided me with the perfect platform to tackle various issues as well allowed me to garner readers of all ages from all strata of society.
And finally, writing a mystery novel is a challenge. It has to be written from three points of view – the Author’s POV, the reader’s POV and the POV of the Characters. The Author ‘knows’ it all but has to pretend that he/she doesn’t; the element of surprise has to be retained throughout the novel for the reader and finally, the multiple layers of the characters have to be enigmatic and keep the mystery alive. It is the perfect equation between ‘pretense’, ‘surprise’ and ‘enigma’ which results in a good mystery novel and finding this balance is the real challenge, which I find fascinating and fulfilling.

How does it feel, to be a successful published writer of whom expectations are different, versus a writer who just wrote just because?
The fact that I am published doesn’t alleviate the anxiety that goes hand-in-hand with the process of writing the novel and getting it published. I experience the same anxiety pangs today which I suffered during my first novel. As far as the expectations go, yes, it’s a pressure. Not only because my readers expect a certain standard from me, but also because I myself would want to do better than my last effort. The pressure is also a trigger. A trigger to go beyond my boundaries, push my imagination farther than what I’ve already achieved and write as I’ve never written before.

Do you believe creativity is stifled when prose is categorized and clubbed into genres?
I believe that when a novel is destined to be born, nothing can stop it. Similarly, if I’ve chosen a genre I like to read and the ideas come instinctively to me, the genre is in fact supporting the creativity in me. Creativity can be stifled only if a writer chooses to create a contrived work with a specific market in mind, in a way like writing to a gallery, or if he deviates from his natural instinct. It isn’t the genre then, but his or her attitude which could smother the creativity in him.

Many writers tend to be solitary animals, not savvy sales or marketing folks. For them toughest part is the sell. How did you navigate through this?
This is so true of me. I am a solitary animal. I love to be with my characters and in my fictitious world. But this just isn’t enough anymore. If you want people to be aware of your book - leave alone read it - you have to take much more effort. And I find this extremely difficult - to step out and to promote your work. Today’s definition of success is a result of skillful and smart marketing gimmicks. If you are good at it, you are successful. Reaching out to readers and interacting with them is a good thing. But promoting yourself almost like a brand, changes the focus from your work to yourself. I am still clueless as to how to work around this.

Your first book was also published in the US, how about the books that came after, were they also published outside of India?
My first two novels were published in India in 1994 and 1995. The next two novels, ‘The Cosmic Clues’ and its sequel ‘The Astral Alibi’ were published by Bantam/Dell, Random House USA in 2004 and 2006. My fifth novel The Cavansite Conspiracy’ was again published by Rupa Publications, India in 2011. My forthcoming series, a YA mystery series, is being published by the Times Group Books, India, scheduled for 2013 release.

You recently won an award, can you give the details? Any other awards you have won? Please list them.
‘The Cosmic Clues’ was selected as a ‘killer Book’ by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association of America, in 2004.
The Astral Alibi was honored as a ‘Notable Fiction book’ in the ‘Kiriyama Prize, 2006’.
And now recently, The Butterfly & the Bee (BTB), a literary organization (in New Delhi) launched its first Indian literary awards based on readers’ feedback. ‘The Cavansite Conspiracy’ was awarded the Best Mystery Book of 2012.

What do you read – for pleasure and for motivation?
I read everything that I can lay my hands on – from magazine, children books to spiritual ones.

If I were to look through your bedside reading pile what would I find?
An Enid Blyton book, an Agatha Christie, A Deepak Chopra meditation book and probably a Victoria Holt or a Jane Austen.

What is your next project? What are you working on?
I am working on a YA mystery series with Times Group Books. The first title is due for release in Feb/March 2013 and is called ‘The Gypsies at Noelle’s Retreat’ – A Riva Parkar Mystery. This story takes place in Giverny and Paris. The second novel in the series is titled ‘The Gypsies on the Eurail’ and as the novel suggests, the Gypsies will be traveling through Europe and Riva Parkar, the main protagonist will solve a mystery. I am also working on a futuristic fantasy for another publisher but the project is right now tightly under wraps J

Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

A TED Talk by Andrew Stanton on "The Clues To A Great Story"

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton ("Toy Story," "WALL-E") shares what he knows about storytelling -- starting at the end and working back to the beginning. (Contains graphic language ...)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Swami Vivekananda On Success

Something for all writers to think about as they embark on any project-- 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hyderabad Literary Festival Jan 18-20 2013

For those interested --

Hyderabad Literary Festival is organized by Muse India: the literary ejournal in collaboration with the Department of Tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh, and with the support of several academic, literary, cultural organizations and publishing houses. 
Started in 2010, HLF has received excellent response from writers, readers, publishers, and the media. HLF is a multi-lingual event and one of its distinctive features is the strong accent on writing in the Indian languages. Nearly 100 writers representing over a dozen Indian languages, including English, participated in each edition of the Festival.  
New FeaturesInviting a foreign country to showcase its literature and culture is a new feature added to the Festival in 2012. Germany was the ‘Guest Nation’ at HLF 2012 and at HLF 2013 it will be France. Another new feature that is being introduced at HLF 2013 is a special focus on the literature and culture of one Indian language at each edition of the Festival. Telugu will be the language in focus at HLF 2013.  
VenueHLF 2013 will be held from 18-20 Jan on the campus of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Gachibowli, Hyderabad. 

Full Details at their website -- http://www.hyderabadliteraryfestival.com/2012index.asp

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tête-à-Tête With Clark Blaise

He has been appropriately called, "the greatest living Canadian writer most Canadians have never heard of," by Quill & Quire magazine. Clark Blaise, who is married to writer Bharati Mukherjee, is now retired from his post as director of the international writing program at the University of Iowa, and lives in New York. His wife, Bharati, nearing the end of her tenure as a full professor at the University of California at Berkeley, lives a continent away. 
Clark Blaise with his wife Bharati Mukherjee

An article in The Globe And The Mail says --

"Closely chaperoned Bharati Mukherjee, 23, had never been alone in the same room with a man when she met Clark Blaise at the University of Iowa near the unanticipated end of the Kennedy presidency. Two weeks later, the two young writers were married.

Almost 48 years after that, following dual careers in which the couple have published almost 30 books between them, two of them co-written and the latest two so intertwined they actually share some characters..."

Author of about 20 books of fiction and non-fiction, Clark's most recent book "The Meagre Tarmac" is a fabulous read. The Globe And The Mail says, "Even a decade ago, vigilant theorists of "post-colonial" literature would have denounced any white male with the temerity to "appropriate" the voices of characters with darker skin colours, but The Meagre Tarmac is unrepentantly their story - specifically, the generation of highly motivated professionals who poured out of a then-stagnant India in the 1970s and transformed North American life."

Why and how does Clark Blaise fit into this South Asian blog, one may ask? 

To put it quite simply, his understanding of the Indian community, people and culture. As is evident in his newest collection of short stories. As the article in The Globe And The Mail says, "After 48 years of immersion in the Indian diaspora, Blaise was primed to learn its lessons. "I did the New York Times review in 1981 of [Salman Rushdie's] Midnight's Children, and it struck me then I was dealing with something that was new and unique in the history of literature," he says.



Clark Blaise who has received an Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy (2003), and in 2010 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada was kind enough to take time out to answer some questions for Suprose. We are honored to present this Tête-à-Tête With Clark Blaise.


How has fiction writing evolved since you started writing it?  

When I entered the Writers Workshop 50 years ago (and studied first with Philip Roth, after having worked with Bernard Malamud in Harvard Summer School—to answer your later questions about "mentors"—the models for fiction were classic: Joyce and Chekhov as the foundation (we're talking of stories), with encouragement to find your own masters.  Among Americans here were Malamud and Roth, of course, and Updike and Cheever and Grace Paley, and there were other Irish beyond Joyce, and other Russians beyond Chekhov, like Isaac Babel.  I could appreciate Hemingway, but he didn't influence me until much later.  I'd grown up as a "Southern" writer, thanks to a swampy childhood in north-central Florida, so Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor were palpable influences--we supped at the same table.  

How many influences can young writer absorb?  If he's open to too many, their competing claims might strangle him in the crib.  But there were outliers in those formative years.  I found Curtis Zahn ("American Contemporary") on my own, I heard about Irwin Faust ("Roar Lion, Roar") from a friend.  In the workshop there was always a great frenzy to find and claim a writer for your own, to make a case for him or her against everyone else's favorite.  We were still parochial, of course.  As a self-conscious Canadian as well as southern American, I was an early proponent of Hugh Hood and just a little later, Alice Munro.  



The evolution, I think, starts with internationalization.  Also with intense regionalism.  A Southerner or a Westerner could throw up a list of names unknown to a midwesterner or New Yorker.  Also with genres.  Remember, many of my Iowa classmates who were then struggling to find their voice, who are today's major influences, like Ray Carver or Joy Williams.  There's still a hunger for young writers to find new writers, but that map has expanded.  Once I married into India (Bharati Mukherjee) while still in the workshop, I had a different world dropped into my mailbox.  I think now the influences on a young writer are everywhere: they can import foreign voices (and they travel now, so their own foreign experiences), the drug culture, hook-ups, pop culture references from music and movies and TV and social media, formerly "exotic" immigrant experiences outside the usual European.  There are stories I read that I realize are borrowing from technical manuals whose intricacies are beyond me.  But in his day, so was Ulysses.

How did you get into fiction writing? When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?  

I backed into it, in my undergraduate days at Denison University (Ohio).  I started out as a geology/geography major, based on all the traveling and resettlement I'd gone through as a child.  Then, abruptly, my parents divorced and the tenuous connection I'd felt with the physical world was shattered.  I had to face the question of who I was and where I was going, so I dropped out of school and worked in the South (this was 1959-60), joined the Freedom Movement, and had a life-defining moment in a Tennessee jail after sitting in.  One of my cell-mates was an inspiring graduate student in Theology from Vanderbilt, and he read Vincent van Gogh's "Dear Theo" to us all night.  I knew I wanted to follow that path.  I eventually came back to Denison, on loans, as an English major.  I started writing of my southern background and found an immediate audience and for the first time in my life, approval.  Then I went on to Harvard that summer and found friendship and approval from Malamud, then Iowa, then returned to Canada—Montreal—to explore my Canadian and French-Canadian ancestry, started a graduate writing program, and moved from being a Southern writer to a Canadian/American one.  After 15 years, we moved back to the States, at 40.  It was a liberating move for Bharati, but I never re-established the position I'd enjoyed in Canada.

Who and what did you read when you were studying to be a writer?  

Starting from the day I returned to Denison as a junior, I swore an oath to read a book every day, and I continued to do so through my remaining time at Denison, then at Harvard, then at Iowa.  It was a daisy-chain of books.  Any mention of an author I'd not read, or never heard of, I took as an insult to my oath.  It's a great way to learn one's craft.  Why do writers hold our interest and make us go out and search for other titles.  Why do others seem overblown?  My earliest favorites were Dreiser, Lawrence, Faulkner.

When did you publish your first book and how difficult or easy was it for you at the time? 

My first book was "New Canadian Writing 1968" using 4 of my stories, and 4 from two other young authors (one of whom, Dave Godfrey, had been a classmate at Iowa).  But my first "real" book, all mine, was "A North American Education", stories, many of them linked, most of them set in Montreal (1972).   It was brought out by Doubleday Canada, but also picked up in New York, where Doubleday brought out my next story collection, "Tribal Justice" in 1973. The process was deceptively easy.  My colleague in Montreal, Margaret Atwood, had wanted my first book for her new publishing house in Toronto (House of Anansi), but by then Doubleday had already claimed it.  I would have been happy either way.  I stayed with Doubleday for "Days and Nights in Calcutta" (a joint non-fiction with Bharati), and "Lunar Attractions", a novel, and "Lusts", another novel.  

Any authors/writers who were your mentors?  

Too many, from my experience.  Eventually, you absorb (steal from?) what you need, and retire the ones you don't.  

How has the publishing cycle changed recently? 

Let's say I started with Doubleday in New York where Jackie Kennedy was roaming the halls, to a series of small, boutique Canadian houses who do beautiful work and care about building a list and honoring their writers.  So the publishing world (for me) has shrunk, and also grown.  I had a small taste of late-70's "stardom" in the US, but I was living in Canada.  I've had star-turns in Canada, of late, but I'm living in the States.

How do you feel about the focus on marketing, and writers getting pulled into performing more marketing tasks versus getting back to their writing?  

How can you feel?  It's an unnatural fit for most of us, but a perfect opening for some.  Generally, I find the much younger writers are very comfortable with marketing, commerce, media, etc. and accept the necessity of helping to move "the product."  (But so were Fitzgerald and Hemingway).  Look, it's a much wealthier country today than it was when Bharati and I were starting out.  It was easier to stand with our great bohemian, anti-bourgeois brethren from the 19th century, Flaubert, Joyce, Baudelaire, etc.  Now it would look like a new marketing ploy, and it would be rewarded.  We never expected to make money, and if it did, we were grateful.  But now, when I teach young writers they often ask me for names of agents and editors, not other authors to read.

Who are some authors that you recommend upcoming creative writers read?  

Well, when I have the opportunity to expound, I usually say what I said above: know the foundational texts, understand them profoundly, but keep an eye out for contemporaries from all over the world who fortify those foundations.  It's probably a sound policy to know the works that have stood the test of distant times and faraway places, and not always be looking for the latest thing, le dernier cri.  They tend to have their season(s) then fade, leaving you nothing.

What is the most challenging part of creative/fiction writing, and what are some recommendations that you have to overcome these?  

After 50 years, keeping fresh, keeping curious, and of course establishing enough of a "track record" of sales or critical attention to keep a publisher interested.  Moving on to new things, new styles, new ideas without abandoning the decades of work that got you here.

Do you have any exercises for writers block that you like to use? Can you recommend a couple?  

None.  If you're going to write, you'll have losses and betrayals, as in every art form.  What you need is faith in yourself, and in the creation that still shines before you.

What are some books that are currently on your nightstand, waiting to be read?  

Right now I'm working on two books (maybe three).  One is fiction, based on French life in North America, so those books are mainly in French, and available only in Quebec.  But I'm involved on something with broader appeal, though based on the break-through in genetic research, so my desk (not night table) groans with scientific offprints, and some foundational texts like E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology, Crick and Watson's memoirs of DNA research, Dawkins, etc.  I'm thankful for those few years of science at Denison.  They left me ever curious.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Zadie Smiths 10 Rules Of Writing

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/19/zadie-smith-10-rules-of-writing/



  1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
  2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
  3. Don’t romanticise your ‘vocation’. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle’. All that matters is what you leave on the page.
  4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
  5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
  6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
  7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.
  8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
  9. Don’t confuse honours with achievement.
  10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tête-à-Tête With Shauna Singh Baldwin

A Canadian writer of Indian descent, Shauna Singh Baldwin was born in Montreal, grew up in India, and lives in the US. Her first novel What the Body Remembers, the story of two women in a polygamous marriage in occupied India, received the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book (Canada-Caribbean). 


Shauna's second novel, The Tiger Claw,the story of a Sufi Muslim secret agent searching for her beloved through occupied France, was a finalist for Canada's Giller Prize and has been optioned for film. 

English Lessons and Other Stories received the Friends of American Writers prize. Shauna is co-author of A Foreign Visitor's Survival Guide to America.We Are Not in Pakistan: stories was published in 2007. The Selector of Souls was published in Sept 2012.

Shauna has an MBA from Marquette University and an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She is passionate about womens issues and her books reflect this.

An article in The Globe And The Mail says, "Although her outspokenness has made her controversial in the traditional society that produced her – a trait Baldwin shares, albeit less dramatically, with her friend Salman Rushdie – this author remains fiercely political. The fact that few want to talk about the epidemic of anti-female sex selection that is distorting Indian society is precisely why she does.
"There's no question this is a terrible problem, and it's a very silent problem," she says. "But if you're going to do fiction, I think you focus on the unseen. You focus on the things that are silent in our lives."


Suprose is proud to feature Shauna Singh Baldwin, in the monthly Tête-à-Tête series.


What drives you to write? What is your writing Muse?

Usually outrage and anger at some event drive me to explore motives and world views that lead to a conflict. And curiosity -- what would it feel like to be/ to do/to experience...
Silence and a blank screen are excellent muses. 

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

Around the age of eleven. I began journaling, coming up with interesting phrases to describe the world, to remember the moment, to explore and understand people. I carried that journal everywhere and some stories and article s began to form -- it was quite painless :-). 

You have said that "Writers of colour take an enormous risk when they critique their own cultures, one that leaves them vulnerable to censure from all sides." How do you deal with this kind of criticism?

By the time my work is published it has been subjected to several years of rigorous verification and revision -- post-publication criticism therefore usually tells more about the critic than about the work. Pomposity can usually be punctured by humour.   

Can you tell us how you found the story and characters for The Selector Of Souls?  

The story began from Images and voices. Damini was a minor character in A Pair of Ears, a short story included inEnglish Lessons and Other Stories (Goose Lane, 1996). Mem-saab and Sardar-saab were characters in What the BodyRemembers, along with their sons Amanjit and Timcu. My challenge was to understand how all these are related. 

In general, how do ideas for your books come to you, and how do you go about creating your characters and the plot?

I begin from voices of the characters, and ask them where they are, who they are talking to, and what troubles them. During the first half, I may outline as I write, and end up with twenty-thirty outlines as I feel out the story, but when I look back on those outlines, none reflects the story that eventually comes forth to surprise me. That's because fiction may describe a problem we have in real life, but wouldn't entertain if characters didn't break usual patterns and come up with creative solutions. 

What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing cycle?

Beginning. That's when the idea is most seductive and looks very easy.  Talking about writing after publication is easy, too. It's the writing that's difficult. 

Some of your role models, who you like to read and why?

Positive role models: Richard Powers, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Toni Morrisson, E.M. Forster, Janette Turner Hospital, Salman Rushdie, Nayantara Sahgal, Kamala Markandaya, Anosh Irani.
These writers write with compassion for their characters, without judging them.  Their choice of subjects and situations shows bravery as writers, along with deep concern for the human race. 

What is currently on your to-read pile, and what I just finished reading piles?

Just finished reading: 
Allah, Liberty and Love 
- Irshad Manji
Burnt Shadows
 -- by Kamila Shamsie
Mortality - Christopher Hitchens
The Western Light -- by Susan Swan
On my to-read/in the middle of reading pile: 
Requiem -- by Frances Itani
Joseph Anton
 - Salman Rushdie
Dark Diversions
 - John Ralston Saul
Why Men Lie -- Linden Macintyre

If you had a chance to ask your role models a question, what would that be?

Writing role models or personal? I'll take that question to mean
If you had a chance to ask your personal role models a question, what would that be?
The question I would ask is: How do you raise a son to be a compassionate and nurturing man? 

What are your writing goals and dreams?

To write a book about writing. To write more plays, poems and short stories.
To write another novel -- or two or three...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Birthday R.K. Narayan!




 


"You become writer by writing. It is a yoga." 
- R.K. Narayan


As we think of R.K. Narayan on his birthday, one remembers Malgudi. Like William Faulkner, R.K. Narayan created the fictional town of Malgudi, but nothing could be closer to reality. The colorful characters, each one with depth and meaning added even more dimension to this world that R. K. Narayan created for his readers.

You can read a detailed biography of R.K. Narayan with a list of all the books he published here -
http://suprose.blogspot.com/2006/05/remembering-rk-narayan-october-10-1906.html

In this Suprose roundtable writers including Chitra Divakaruni, Clark Blaise and Sudha Menon reflect upon how R.K. Narayan influenced them --
http://suprose.blogspot.com/2012/05/roundtable-how-rk-narayan-influenced-me.html

Please leave a comment below on how R.K. Narayan and his works have influenced you...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Joseph Anton AKA Salman Rushdie


He was in hiding for 9 years and the bounty on his head continued to be in effect. His memoir Joseph Anton, which describes his years in hiding, was published on September 18th 2012 and the bounty on his head increased from $2.8million to $3.3million.

Joseph Anton was the name Salman Rushdie took when in hiding. This was the name born from a combination of the first names of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov, two of his favorite writers.

To jog our memory, Mr. Rushdie’s fourth novel The Satanic Verses was said to have made blasphemous references to Islam. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwah on Mr. Rushdie and his publishers calling upon all Muslims to kill him or have him killed, following the February 1989 riots in Pakistan where The Satanic Verses were publicly burnt.

Rushdie went into hiding and was offered police protection. Assassination squads were sent after him. Britain severed ties with Iran for this preposterous act. 23 years later, came the memoir. India has distanced herself from Rushdie, shunning him from the Jaipur Literary Festival, but the memoir has been allowed to circulate within the country.

"For a long time I didn't want to write this because I felt it would be too upsetting. But writing it actually wasn't," Mr. Rushdie tells The Guardian. Explaining why he wrote it Mr. Rushdie added,  "Well, I didn't want to write 600 pages of getting even. I thought I would try to be as understanding as possible to everybody else and as rough as possible on myself. I decided not to varnish stuff."

Right around the time Joseph Anton was scheduled to be published, an Internet film, said to be demeaning to Islam, went viral causing riots worldwide. Whether completely unrelated or not, Mr. Rushdie was again held responsible for the rising tensions against Islam. Mr. Rushdie’s reaction, as stated to The Guardian was, “The film is clearly a malevolent piece of garbage. The civilised response would be to say of the director: 'Fuck him. Let's get on with our day.' What's not civilised is to hold America responsible for everything that happens in its borders. That's crap. Even if that were true, to respond with physical attacks and believe it's OK to attack people because you're upset at this thing, that's an improper reaction. The Muslim world needs to get out of that mindset.”

Two days before the memoir was released the Associated Press reported that the bounty on Mr. Rushdie, which was formerly at $2.8 million, was raided to $3.3 million.

The Associated Press reported that “15 Khordad Foundation, headed by Ayatollah Hassan Saneii, will pay the higher reward to whoever acts on the 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, issued by Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.”

Sanei, in a statement carried by the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) said, “I am adding another $500,000 to the reward for killing Salman Rushdie, and anyone who carries out this sentence will receive the whole amount immediately," reported Reuters adding that in 1998, under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, Iran's government distanced itself from the Rushdie fatwa, but hardline groups regularly renew the call for Rushdie's death, saying Khomeini's decree is irrevocable and eternal. 

Mr. Rushdie, brushed aside the threats. The Los Angeles Times reports that after hearing reports that an Iranian organization had increased the standing bounty on his head, author Salman Rushdie was nonplussed. "I'm not inclined to magnify this ugly bit of headline grabbing by paying it much attention," he told The Times through his publisher.

At a time when Mr. Rushdie ought to be celebrating the release of his film made by his friend Deepa Mehta, and the launch of his much celebrated memoir, Joseph Anton, it is grim to see the rising antagonism against him. However, to Mr. Rushdie, after 23 years in hiding, brushing these “distractions” away seem to have become second nature.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How To Attend The Jaipur Literary Festival

Politics and Prose Bookstore based in Washington DC and Academic Travel Abroad are organizing a trip to the amazing 2013 Jaipur Literary Festival. Full Details here -- http://wp.me/P29dPX-bL

Sure sounds fabulous! For those of you who can make it, just know that you are going to have an absolutely fabulous time.

A snapshot from their website below--

Join journalist and screenwriter Alexandra Viets on this unique journey to India that will include stops at a number of major tourist sites while also serving as a roving literary seminar. Along the way the P&P group will immerse itself in the riches of South Asian literature with informal conversations about art, film, and contemporary books, including Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize-winning novel of modern New Delhi, The White Tiger, Rohinton Mistry’s classic epic, A Fine Balance, and other fiction and non-fiction selections. The trip will offer rare access to local journalists and writers and will include a private meeting with festival organizer and prize-winning author William Dalrymple.
The ten-day journey will begin January 21 flying to New Delhi, a vibrant, chaotic, glorious city that fuses the ancient and modern worlds. Here participants will explore the labyrinthine streets of both Old and New Delhi, visit mosques, monuments and forts, and shop at the lively and colorful bazaars. The visit will be enhanced by a guided walking tour with author, broadcaster, and longtime Indiophile Sam Miller, and will also include a picnic in Lodhi Gardens with Rama Lakshmi who has worked as the Washington Post correspondent in New Delhi for more than 20 years.


The ten-day journey will begin January 21 flying to New Delhi, a vibrant, chaotic, glorious city that fuses the ancient and modern worlds. Here participants will explore the labyrinthine streets of both Old and New Delhi, visit mosques, monuments and forts, and shop at the lively and colorful bazaars. The visit will be enhanced by a guided walking tour with author, broadcaster, and longtime Indiophile Sam Miller, and will also include a picnic in Lodhi Gardens with Rama Lakshmi who has worked as the Washington Post correspondent in New Delhi for more than 20 years.In Jaipur, there’ll be meetings with featured authors and ample opportunity to explore the stunning landscape of Jaipur itself, including the Amber Fort, City Palace, and small independent bookshops. Politics & Prose will be working with partners in Jaipur to help secure good seating at events and readings once the 2013 schedule is finalized. Past authors have included Vikram Seth, Tom Stoppard, Michael  Ondaatje, JM Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk, Ian McEwan, and Roddy Doyle.
Itinerary here.
Cost here.
Full details here.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Joseph Anton AKA Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdies memoir, Joseph Anton, about his time in hiding is making a grand entrance. 


David Remnick writes in The New Yorker ---
Twenty-three years after the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued his death warrant on Salman Rushdie and forced on the novelist a decade of hellish seclusion, Rushdie is publishing this week a brilliant memoir of those years of endurance, called “Joseph Anton.” (Rushdie’s security detail asked that he devise an alias and “Joseph Anton”—the first names of Conrad and Chekhov—is what he chose.) Readers of the excerpt from Rushdie’s new book that was published here earlier this month could readily sense the shaming helplessness of his experience and his astonishing capacity to tell the story straight. There is in the memoir a kind of absolute honesty, a willingness to pass clear-eyed judgment on everyone involved—including, most ruthlessly, himself. “Joseph Anton,” which is written in a deliberately distancing, yet scrupulously accurate, third-person voice, is, in its way, as important a book as “Midnight’s Children,” the novel that gave birth to the Rushdie phenomenon, in 1981.

Read an excerpt from the memoir here.  Several reviews of Joseph Anton are already flooding media outlets. Some of them are below.

The humiliations, the parties, the failures of analysis -- Pankaj Mishra's review of Salman Rushdie's memoir in The Guardian here.

NPR reports on Rushdie and Joseph Anton here.

A great piece that sums it all up titled, "11 Revelations From Salman Rushdie’s Memoir, ‘Joseph Anton" was published in The Daily Beast.

The WSJ review "Life in the Fatwa's Shadow" is here.