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Sunday, September 03, 2017

The longlist for the USD 25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 was announced on August 10 by feminist writer and publisher Ritu Menon, who is the chair of the jury panel for the prize. The longlist of 13 novels represents a diverse mix of established writers and debut novelists from different backgrounds and geographies — seven Indians, three Pakistanis, two Sri Lankans and an American based in India. There are three debut novels and two translations from Tamil and Malayalam. The full story here.
It needed to be done. So, dug up my rather long (therefore hitherto unpublished) review of Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s ‘The Adivasi Will Not Dance’ (which, I might add, I did at the insistence of the author, as a exercise in ‘anti-review’), updated it and sent to the editor two weeks back. Finally, it’s out. The headline, while prophetic, doesn’t make sense. The link to the review HERE.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Himanjali Sankar’s new novel Mrs C Remembers has been praised for its heartbreaking portrayal of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s, and rightly so. But there are so many other things going on in the novel, which are equally important. A short review of Mrs C Remembers in Sakal Times published on 20 August.

In the end, however, what stays with you is not the political debate, but the compellingly opaque character of Mrs Anita Chatterjee. As she begins to narrate her story, she begins to lose her memory, an affliction, which is poignant in itself and allows the novelist to construct a fascinatingly unreliable character — a representation of who Mrs C thinks she is.
Everything else in the novel is devoted to highlight the aspects of Mrs C, the ideal daughter, daughter-in-law, wife and mother. But as you look close, everything appears hazy. While Mrs C herself appears to be an unreliable narrator (did she really decide to kill her mother-in-law by conveniently forgetting to give her the medicines?), Sohini, with very different outlook to life, doesn’t seem to understand her mother at all. In terms of narrative trope, this is delicious stuff, and Sankar’s fast-paced writing keeps you hooked until the end, which, offers a wickedly, charming twist.
Talking about ideas, the novel deals with several weighty issues — personal vs relationships, relationships vs ideology. The execution of them is not always perfect; you are left expecting more, but Mrs C Remembers is a rare gem of a novel which devotes the entire length of it in developing a character that is fascinatingly easy to explain, yet frustratingly opaque.

The full review here.

Tejore Kamalapati

Tejore Kamalapati
A Borgeet in Old Assamese by Madhabdeb



Discard your sleep, oh, the spouse of Kamala, dawn breaks
Let me gaze at your moon-like face, oh, wake up Govinda
The night has gone faraway; the horizon is now fair
Breaking the darkness comes out the rays of sun

The bees gather around the blooming lotuses
The women of Braj milk cows singing your praise
Dam and Sudam are outside calling out your name
Look, here, even Balaram is up and awake.

Nanda has left for stables, the milkman to the market
You have take Surabhi for grazing, Gopal wake up
Khir, salt, horn and stick, all your items are set
Make it fast, son, the cattle moo outside

Says Madhab, Mother, what penance did you do
To get the Master of the Three Worlds as your cowherd?

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