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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Friday, October 26, 2012

Zadie Smiths 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 -

In this Suprose roundtable writers including Chitra Divakaruni, Clark Blaise and Sudha Menon reflect upon how R.K. Narayan influenced them --

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.