Monday, February 21, 2005

Of Novels and Kebabs

Writing a novel is an arduous exercise. Reading about the process of writing a novel is so fascinating. I am a sucker for such details. Here's the latest one by Justin Cartwright:

"The other day an Argentinian woman asked me how I get my inspiration. The implication of the question was that basically all you need to write a book is some inspiration, by which she meant a marketable idea. It was impossible to say that actually the process of writing a book is similar to what goes on in a kebab shop: you carve bits of yourself away and present them in envelopes of pitta. The lettuce and the tomato and the hot sauce are style. This simile is - clearly - not going very far, but the point is that writing is not about a Great Idea which writes itself. Writing is, as Philip Roth put it, self mining."

A very novel way of looking at the process, isn't it?

Tokyo Cancelled

With Tokyo Cancelled, a new Indian literary star is born or so it seems. The proof is in the fact that even a curmudgeonly dame like Shashi Deshpande has good words to say on his work:

"But it is unfair to judge a first novel by what it has not, only right to look at what it has. This one reveals enormous confidence, crafting skill and, above all, promise. One hopes that the writer will soon realise that magic realism is not unbridled imagination (the son of Robert De Niro and a Chinese laundress meets the daughter of Isabella Rosselini and Martin Scorcese!) but an absolute control over it. "

That is good news for the lad. Meanwhile, I checked Rana's website:

The site doesn't have more than what you already know about him, but it has an impressive slide show. Rana has showcased some of his photographs from around the world. You bet, the guy has got an eye for detail. Good luck Rana!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

During Chinese New Year, I was in Johor Bahru. Was bowled over by the beauty of this mosque, which was not far from Hyatt. Posted by Hello

Happy New Year at Orchard Road, Singapore! Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I am back

This is the first post in 2005. I am dedicating it to bibliobuli. He woke me up.

All these days I did not feel like writing here. The end of 2004 with a destructive tsunami, the death and devastation--all left me shaken and cold. I did not suffer any personal loss but the pain was nevertheless there.

Then, what did I do all these days? Of course, the office work kept me occupied. Read a few good books: The Idea of India, Anthology of Indian Short Stories (edited by Rushdie et al.) and some other novels.

Out of the anthology, I loved Anajana Appachana's Sharmaji. I had been planning a similar story on a character called Sharmaji, from the same milieu of Delhi's bureaucracy. Anjana's story has raised the bar for me. I have to do better!

Another lovely story was called The Collecter by Rohinton Mistry. It is pure and brilliant.

I saw more of Kurusawa. My love for his talent is increasing with every new film of his that I watch. I find his work more in-depth, layered, and dramatic than Satyajit Ray's. I should write about this some day.