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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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Salman Rushdie And the 2012 Jaipur Literary Festival

When the Jaipur Literary Festival opened on January 19th 2012, everyone was still hopeful that Salman Rushdie would participate. In an article titled "Jaipur literary festival opens amid tight security", BBC News reported that "Organisers have taken his name off the list of speakers, although they say they still hope he will turn up."

Unfortunately that was not to be and as a "last resort" a video talk with Rushdie was arranged. The hullabaloo that arose from this, put an end to the video presence of Rushdie as well.

Authors Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar, who were also presenters at the Jaipur Book Festival, started reading from the Satanic Verses during their presentation and they were asked to stop. Eventually their lives were also threatened and they had to flee India for the safety of their foreign homes.

Here is a write-up from each of these authors with their thoughts on the subject --
Hari Kunzru - http://www.harikunzru.com/archive/reading-satanic-verses-jaipur-2012
Amitava Kumar - http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-writer-amitava-kumar-interview/20120127.htm

In an article in the Guardian titled, "Why Salman Rushdie's voice was silenced in Jaipur" William Darlympyle explains what happened.

An excellent writeup by Amitav Ghosh, one of the most talented writer of our times, titled Festivals and Freedom explores the relationship of books and writers with their audiences and the governement.

Many articles have been written on this within the last few days, many writers have expressed their thoughts on this. Here are a few listed below --
-- Salman Rushdie Falls Victim to Indian Intolerance: Pankaj Mishra
-- Salman Rushdie Speaks to Barkha Dutt of NDTV -- Full Transcript here.
-- Salman Rushdie got best of the deal: Anjolie Ela Menon
-- Salman Rushdie's Contentious Absence at India's Jaipur Festival
-- Salman Rushdie, back on trial

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Now this is called organizing!

First they organized a book case, and then decided to do a whole book store. From the owners of Type bookstore in Toronto (883 Queen Street West, (416) 366-8973)

First their book case--

Now the bookstore --

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Seven novels make Man Asian Literary Prize’s strongest shortlist

An unprecedented seven novels have been shortlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. 

2011 Shortlist
Four of the shortlisted novels were originally written in English; the novels from South Korea, China and Japan are all judged in translation.
Speaking of the decision Chair Judge, Razia Iqbal said, “The judges were greatly impressed by the imaginative power of the stories now being written about rapidly changing life in worlds as diverse as the arid borderlands of Pakistan, the crowded cityscape of modern Seoul, and the opium factories of nineteenth century Canton. This power and diversity made it imperative for us to expand the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize shortlist beyond the usual five books.”
The two other judges for this year’s Prize are Pulitzer-prize finalist and author of The Surrendered, Chang-rae Lee, and Vikas Swarup, author of Q&A which was filmed as the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire
The winner of the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize will be announced on Thursday March 15th 2012 at a black tie dinner in Hong Kong, the home of the Prize.
The full press release is here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Win A Copy of Anita Desai's Latest Book

Want to win one of 3 copies of Anita Desai's latest book "The Artist of Disappearance" ?

Here is what you need to do --
1. Click on this link
2. Read the exclusive interview with AnitaDesai and 
3. Leave a comment with your name and email by January 30th

Three people will be randomly selected on January 31st to win a copy of the book. 
You will be contacted via email.

Come back and visit, for fabulous new books and giveaways each month!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tête-à-Tête With Anita Desai

To those who love literature and good fiction, Anita Desai needs little introduction. An Indian novelist and Emeritus John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, in 1978 for her novel, Fire on the Mountain, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters. She has also been awarded the 1983 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for The Village By The Sea and 2003 Benson Medal of Royal Society of Literature among many others.  For more biographical information about Anita Desai, read this post on Suprose.

Suprose is honored to feature this exclusive interview with Anita Desai who was kind enough to answer some questions about her work and her writing.

1.     Why did you choose to become a writer? When did you know you wanted to be one?

I became a writer because I was first a bookworm.  Ever since I started learning how to read, I read and I read and I loved my books more than anything. I started writing little stories and started sewing them up and stitching them up into little books because I wanted my books to belong to the book world. I wanted to belong to the book world myself. And that’s how I became a writer.

2.     You wrote your first story at the age of 9…?

I started writing when I was 7 but I had my first piece published when I was 9 in a small children’s magazine creating a big excitement in my family. 

3.     What motivated you to write then and what motivates you now?

Just to belong to the book world. I love reading and I love books. It’s a world I belong to and it’s how I express myself.  I can best express myself in writing and in prose. And as I grew older and I became an adult, it was also my way of dealing with the world which seemed chaotic, disorderly, out of control. And once you put things down on paper and put it all into words, you impose an order upon that disorder, and it’s my way of understanding the world.

4.     It has been 7 years since your last book was published… The Artist Of Disappearance (2011) after The Zigzag Way (2004)… Eager beaver readers of your work such as myself are wondering why this gap?

I can’t quite explain it. I think as one grows older, one does not have quite the same energy, one becomes more self-conscious about ones work. I think when I was young, I just wrote and wrote and wrote without much thought, without stopping, but now, I do stop and think a great deal about every sentence, about every word I choose. That’s part of the reason. I am slow to develop ideas. The new stories are ideas I have had in me in for a long time.

I don’t immediately sit down to write them. I let them grow, slowly, organically at their own pace and then comes a moment when I am ready to put them on paper. And that’s what took me seven years.

5.     The Artist of Disappearance is filled with such elegant prose, the subject of each of the novellas is quite introspective. What was the impetus behind each of the three stories?

One tends to dip back into ones experience, memory or ones life, and they lie there waiting for the correct time, the time when you can finally use them. “The Museum of Final Journeys,” that idea came to me quite quickly when, I was walking through the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice, which was a collection put together by an Italian aristocrat who travelled in the East and sent boxes and boxes of curios and art objects to his family home, and eventually they turned it into a museum. And I thought that was an interesting idea for a book and that I would probably write it soon. But I didn’t set it in Venice. I found myself happier about setting it in a landscape that I had only driven through really. The landscape of West Bengal where my older sister was, a civil servant, and when I was a young woman she would sometimes take me with her on tours of that area. I saw those empty fields and abandoned mansions all crumbling into ruins, and of course that sets one thinking about their history, what about their past, why have they been abandoned, how long will they be in ruins. And then I started writing and putting it all down on paper, the elephant stepped out of the shadow’s as I hadn’t expected it to. But then the elephant turned out to be a perfect symbol for memory, because that’s what the museum was all about and it was the memory of a journey and it was a living memory unlike the objects which were all dead, and covered with dust and cobwebs.

And the other stories had different beginnings.

“Translator Translated” had a lot to do with my experience as a young woman helping to publish and to write for literary magazines at Delhi where I used to live at that time and getting to know Indian publishers and people who made a living by freelance work.

The third story “The Artist Of Disappearance” goes farthest back into my past into a world where as a small child, I literally used to spend my summers in Mussoorie and I used to spend my time wandering up and down the hills, stuffing pine cones and pebbles in my hands and, getting to know every path through the woods and every tree, just the way my, central character Ravi does.

6.     You are such a prolific writer, it is had for one to visualize you as anything else but… Having said that, if you had not chosen to write what do you think you would have been?

I really have never ever considered any other career. When I graduated from college in Delhi I started going around to publishing houses and to journals that they printed in those times, trying to find, a job with one of them. None of them gave me a job so I was told to just try writing for them not working for them. When I was 50, I did take up another career and that was teaching. I taught writing courses in various American Universities.

7.     How do you write? Computer, paper, typewriter?

I write with a paper and pen and eventually I type my manuscript. No I don’t work on the computer, I find that it somehow removes me from the texture and the fabric of writing. One has a relationship with ones notebook, with ones papers, which one doesn’t have with ones computer. I revise on paper, I write several versions of each story, I only go to the typewriter when I am fairly certain that I have done the work I wanted to do.

8.     What are your thoughts on eReaders and the publishing industry today?

One gets so attached to the look of a book, the feel of a book, that no kindle or other gadget can possibly have that same feel. I imagine it is extremely practical for some people who are travelling or for some other reason, but, I would think it a great pity, it would be a great loss in my life if I didn’t have a book to hold in my hand and read from.

I grew up in a home full of books with a large library and my children grew up around a lot of books, and I can’t imagine what an empty space a house can be without them. One gets to know their books like close friends and acquaintances.

9.     What thoughts, emotions feelings crossed your mind when your daughter,  Kiran Desai decided to become a writer?

When she was a little girl, if she was ever away from home, she would write such wonderful letters, I would always encourage her to write more, to expand and she would always dismiss these suggestions, because she would say she never wanted to be a writer.  All my children said they never wanted to be writers because I lived such a boring life and they never wanted to. Luckily when my daughter went to Bennington College, Vermont, her professors also noticed her talent was really in writing and not in environmental science which she was studying and they encouraged her to write. She wrote her first short stories while she was there. And I was so happy because I knew this was what she was meant to do, and I wanted her to do it so much.

10. How do you like working with your daughter, in the same house? How do you both work together?

We work in the same house yes, but we don’t work together on the same pieces. I wouldn’t know how to do that. And I wouldn’t want to do that because I would not want to impose my ideas and my style on her, which is uniquely her own. When she has written a book she will give me the first finished draft to read. I do read the draft when she feels ready to give me one, and I do make some suggestions, but I don’t take over and start writing her sentences for her, or even editing much because, I know that is what the publisher will do, I don’t think it is professional to do that. I don’t think ones family or friends should edit ones work.

11. What/who do you read for pleasure? Which writers inspired you, in the past and now?

Quite often I am reading books I will be reviewing which is what I am doing at the moment. I tend not to read books when I hear they are the best sellers of the moment, I like to leave them alone till they settle down and maybe I will read them later.

Ever since I was in college I have always turned to Virginia Woolfe, because I admire her style so much, because I think she has a way of very subtly, obliquely, addressing issues that other writers might meet head on, which she never does. I like that oblique way of her writing.

I also like the verse by Emily Dickinson –
“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---

Success in Cirrcuit lies

Too bright for our infirm
 The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind--”

I think that Virginia Woolfe did that in so many of her books. I also like the Russian writers like Chekov and Gogol, who tend to be more approachable, more like human beings not gods.

Among Indian writers, I very much enjoy R.K. Narayans work. I was very impressed with Salman Rushdie’s early books, Midnights Children and Shame. I think those books really transformed the scene of Indian Literature, because they changed the language that writers used.

12. For the younger generation of writers, many of whom work regular jobs during the day and then
write by night or at the break of dawn, the writing world is very challenging. What is your advice to these passionate writers wannabe’s?

Anita Desai receives the
Sahitya Kala Akademi award
I think it is a great problem that they have a job or a family and they want to write too. They will be torn too between these different ways of life. But I think this is a kind of torment that young writers just have to go through. If they want to write passionately enough and want to express themselves passionately enough, I think sooner or later, they will find a way to do it. 

I would also caution young writers, not to expect a huge big breakthrough with their first book, with bestseller-dom and a large advance and a comfortable life thereafter, it just doesn’t work that way, not for most of us. I think you have to realize that it will take a whole shelf full of books; a great number of books before you can start earning a living from them.

It is wise to have another occupation to fall back on, preferably something that isn’t too taxing, like a teaching job or something in a library or bookshop, or really any job, which doesn’t drain you too much, and which allows you the time and space to do your own writing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing

Chuck adapted this list for writers from a more general article with a list titled 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself. Read the original list as well to motivate you to live a better life.
As far as Chuck's list for writers goes, here it is, brace yourself, it's harsh, (I have tried to soften it somewhat) but this is real, so be truthful to yourself! 

Happy New Year, 
and may this year blanket you with the best reading and writing!

from Chuck Wendig's blog Terrible Minds

1. Stop Running Away
Right here is your story. Your manuscript. Your career. So why the fuck are you running in the other direction? Your writing will never chase you — you need to chase your writing. If it’s what you want, then pursue it. This isn’t just true of your overall writing career, either. It’s true of individual components. You want one thing but then constantly work to achieve its opposite. You say you want to write a novel but then go and write a bunch of short stories. You say you’re going to write This script but then try to write That script instead. Pick a thing and work toward that thing.

2. Stop Stopping
Momentum is everything. Cut the brake lines. Careen wildly and unsteadily toward your goal. I hate to bludgeon you about the head and neck with a hammer forged in the volcanic fires of Mount Obvious, but the only way you can finish something is by not stopping. That story isn’t going to unravel itself.

3. Stop Writing In Someone Elses Voice
You have a voice. It’s yours. Nobody else can claim it, and any attempts to mimic it will be fumbling and clumsy like two tweens trying to make out in a darkened broom closet. That’s on you, too — don’t try to write in somebody else’s voice. Yes, okay, maybe you do this in the beginning. But strive past it. Stretch your muscles. Find your voice. This is going to be a big theme at the start of 2012 — discover those elements that comprise your voice, that put the author in your authority. Write in a way that only you can write.

4. Stop Worrying
Worry does nothing. It has no basis in reality. It’s a vestigial emotion, useless as — as my father was wont to say — “tits on a boar hog.” We worry about things that are well beyond our control. We worry about publishing trends or future advances or whether or not Barnes & Noble is going to shove a hand grenade up its own ass and go kablooey. That’s not to say you can’t identify future trouble spots and try to work around them — but that’s not worrying. You recognize a roadblock and arrange a path around it — you don’t chew your fingernails bloody worrying about it. Shut up. Calm down. Worry, begone.

5. Stop Hurrying
The rise of self-publishing has seen a comparative surge forward in quantity. As if we’re all rushing forward to squat out as huge a litter of squalling word-babies as our fragile penmonkey uteruses (uteri?) can handle. Stories are like wine; they need time. So take the time. This isn’t a hot dog eating contest. You’re not being judged on how much you write but rather, how well you do it. Sure, there’s a balance — you have to be generative, have to be swimming forward lest you sink like a stone and find remora fish mating inside your rectum. But generation and creativity should not come at the cost of quality. Give your stories and your career the time and patience it needs. Put differently: don’t have a freak out, man.

6. Stop Waiting
I said “stop hurrying,” not “stand still and fall asleep.” Life rewards action, not inertia. What are you waiting for? To reap the rewards of the future, you must take action in the present. Do so now.

7. Stop Thinking It Should Be Easier
It’s not going to get any easier, and why should it? Anything truly worth doing requires hella hard work. If climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro meant packing a light lunch and hopping in a climate-controlled elevator, it wouldn’t really be that big deal, would it? You want to do This Writing Thing, then don’t just expect hard work — be happy that it’s a hard row to hoe and that you’re just the, er, hoer to hoe it? I dunno. Don’t look at me like that. AVERT YOUR GAZE, SCRUTINIZER. And get back to work.

8. Stop Deprioritizing Your Wordsmithy
You don’t get to be a proper storyteller by putting it so far down your list it’s nestled between “Complete the Iditarod (but with squirrels instead of dogs)” and “Two words: Merkin, Macrame.” You want to do this, it better be some Top Five Shiznit, son. You know you’re a writer because it’s not just what you do, but rather, it’s who you are. So why deprioritize that thing which forms part of your very identity?

9. Stop Treating Your Body Like A Dumpster
The mind is the writer’s best weapon. It is equal parts bullwhip, sniper rifle, and stiletto. If you treat your body like it’s the sticky concrete floor in a porno theater (that’s not a spilled milkshake) then all you’re doing is dulling your most powerful weapon. The body fuels the mind. It should be “crap out,” not “crap in.” Stop bloating your body with awfulness. Eat well. Exercise. Elsewise you’ll find your bullwhip’s tied in knots, your stiletto’s so dull it couldn’t cut through a glob of canned pumpkin, and someone left peanut-butter-and-jelly in the barrel of your sniper rifle.

10. Stop The Moping And The Whining
Complaining — like worry, like regret, like that little knob on the toaster that tells you it’ll make the toast darker — does nothing. (Doubly useless: complaining about complaining, which is what I’m doing here.) Blah blah blah, publishing, blah blah blah, Amazon, blah blah blah Hollywood. Stop boo-hooing. Don’t like something? Fix it or forgive it. And move on to the next thing.

11. Stop Blaming Everybody Else
You hear a lot of blame going around — something-something gatekeepers, something-something too many self-published authors, something-something agency model. You’re going to own your successes, and that means you’re also going to need to own your errors. This career is yours. Yes, sometimes external factors will step in your way, but it’s up to you how to react. Fuck blame. Roll around in responsibility like a dog rolling around in an elk miscarriage. Which, for the record, is something I’ve had a dog do, sooooo. Yeah. It was, uhhh, pretty nasty. Also: “Elk Miscarriage” is the name of my indie band.

12. Stop The Shame
Writers are often ashamed at who they are and what they do. Other people are out there fighting wars and fixing cars and destroying our country with poisonous loans — and here we are, sitting around in our footy-pajamas, writing about vampires and unicorns, about broken hearts and shattered jaws. A lot of the time we won’t get much respect, but you know what? Fuck that. Take the respect. Writers and storytellers help make this world go around. We’re just as much a part of the societal ecosystem as anybody else. Craft counts. Art matters. Stories are important. Freeze-frame high-five. Now have a beer and a shot of whisky and shove all your shame in a bag and burn it.

13. Stop Lamenting Your Mistakes
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you messed up somewhere along the way. Who gives a donkey’s duodenum? Shit happens. Shit washes off. Don’t dwell. Don’t sing lamentations to your errors. Repeat after me: learn and move on. Very few mistakes will haunt you till your end of days unless you let it haunt you. That is, unless your error was so egregious it can never be forgotten (“I wore a Hitler outfit as I went to every major publishing house in New York City and took a poop in every editor’s desk drawer over the holiday. Also, I may have put it on Youtube and sent it to Galleycat. So… there’s that”).

14. Stop Playing It Safe
Let 2012 be the year of the risk. Nobody knows what’s going on in the publishing industry, but we can be damn sure that what’s going on with authors is that we’re finding new ways to be empowered in this New Media Future. What that means is, it’s time to forget the old rules. Time to start questioning preconceived notions and established conventions. It’s time to start taking some risks both in your career and in your storytelling. Throw open the doors. Kick down the walls of your uncomfortable box. Carpet bomb the Comfort Zone so that none other may dwell there.

15. Stop Trying To Control Shit You Can't Control
ALL THAT out there? All the industry shit and the reviews and the Amazonian business practices? The economy? The readers? You can’t control any of that. You can respond to it. You can try to get ahead of it. But you can’t control it. Control what you can, which is your writing and the management of your career.

16. Stop Doing One Thing
Diversification is the name of survival for all creatures: genetics relies on diversification. (Says the guy with no science background and little interest in Googling that idea to see if it holds any water at all.) Things are changing big in these next few years, from the rise of e-books to the collapse of traditional markets to the the galactic threat of Mecha-Gaiman. Diversity of form, format and genre will help ensure you stay alive in the coming entirely-made-up Pubpocalypse.

17. Stop Writing For The Market
To be clear, I don’t mean, “stop writing for specific markets.” That’s silly advice. If you want to write for theLadies’ Home Journal, well, that’s writing for a specific market. What I mean is, stop writing for The Market, capital T-M. The Market is an unknowable entity based on sales trends and educated guess-work and some kind of publishing haruspicy (at Penguin, they sacrifice actual penguins — true story!). Writing a novel takes long enough that writing for the market is a doomed mission, a leap into a dark chasm with the hopes that someone will build a bridge there before you fall through empty space. Which leads me to –

18. Stop Chasing Trends
Set the trends. Don’t chase them like a dog chasing a Buick. Trends offer artists a series of diminishing returns — every iteration of a trend after the first is weaker than the last, as if each repetition is another ice cube plunked into a once strong glass of Scotch. You’re just watering it down, man. Don’t be a knock-off purse, a serial killer copycat, or just another fantasy echo of Tolkien. Do your own thing.

19. Stop Caring About What Other Writers Are Doing
They’re going to do what they’re going to do. You’re not them. You don’t want to be them and they don’t want to be you. Why do what everyone else is doing? Let me reiterate: do your own thing.

20. Stop Caring So Much About The Publishing Industry
Know the industry, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. The mortal man cannot change the weave and weft of cosmic forces; they are outside you. Examine the publishing industry too closely and it will ejaculate its demon ichor in your eye. And then you’ll have to go to the eye doctor and he’ll be all like, “You were staring too long at the publishing industry again, weren’t you?” And you’re like, “YES, fine,” and he’s like, “Well, I have drops for that, but they’ll cost you,” and you get out your checkbook and ask him how many zeroes you should fill in because you’re a writer and don’t have health care. *sob*

21. Stop Listening To What Won't Sell
You’ll hear that. “I don’t think this can sell.” And shit, you know what? That might be right. Just the same — I’d bet that all the stories you remember, all the tales that came out of nowhere and kicked you in the junk drawer with their sheer possibility and potential, were stories that were once flagged with the “this won’t sell” moniker. You’ll always find someone to tell you what you can’t do. What you shouldn’t do. That’s your job as a writer to prove them wrong. By sticking your fountain pen in their neck and drinking their blood. …uhh. I mean, “by writing the best damn story you can write.” That’s what I mean. That other thing was, you know. It was just metaphor. Totally. *hides inkwell filled with human blood*

22. Stop Overpromising And Overshooting
We want to do everything all at once. Grand plans! Sweeping gestures! Epic 23-book fantasy cycles! Don’t overreach. Concentrate on what you can complete. Temper risk with reality.

23. Stop Leaving Yourself off The Page
You are your stories and your stories are you. Who you are matters. Your experiences and feelings and opinions count. Put yourself on every page: a smear of heartsblood. If we cannot connect with our own stories, how can we expect anybody else to find that connection?

24. Stop Dreaming
Stop dreaming. Start doing. Dreams are great — uh, for children. Dreams are intangible and uncertain looks into the future. Dreams are fanciful flights of improbability — pegasus wishes and the hopes of lonely robots. You’re an adult, now. It’s time to shit or get off the pot. It’s time to wake up or stay dreaming. Let me say it again because I am nothing if not a fan of repetition: Stop dreaming. Start doing.

25. Stop Being Afraid
Fear will kill you dead. You’ve nothing to be afraid of that a little preparation and pragmatism cannot kill. Everybody who wanted to be a writer and didn’t become one failed based on one of two critical reasons: one, they were lazy, or two, they were afraid. Let’s take for granted you’re not lazy. That means you’re afraid. Fear is nonsense. What do you think is going to happen? You’re going to be eaten by tigers? Life will afford you lots of reasons to be afraid: bees, kidnappers, terrorism, being chewed apart by an escalator, Republicans, Snooki. But being a writer is nothing worthy of fear. It’s worthy of praise. And triumph. And fireworks. And shotguns. And a box of wine. So shove fear aside — let fear be gnawed upon by escalators and tigers. 

Step up to the plate. Let this be your year.

Thanks for putting this list together Chuck Wendig.