Writer Indra Sinha spoke to us at the Writers of India Festival about his novel Animal's People, on creating the fictional town of Khaufpur, and on his next book.
The novelist Vikram Chandra was at the Writers of India Festival in Paris, and spoke to us about his latest book, Mirrored Mind, whose American title is Geek Sublime. In the book, he returns to his early days as a writer, and examines the connections between coding, writing fiction and the history of Sanskrit grammar and linguistics.
Like any city with a reputation as a capital of the arts, Paris has been enshrined in literary memory as both the pinnacle of creative ambition, and the graveyard of young hope. Reading the dyspeptic Flaubert on the condition of artistic aspiration, for example, can make it seem like Paris is where nineteenth-century dreams came to be ossified in the catacombs of urban distraction. Remember Pellerin in Sentimental Education: “Tortured by a longing for fame, sating his days in argument, believing in countless ridiculous ideas, in systems, in critics, in the importance of the codification or the reform of art, he had reached the age of fifty without producing anything but sketches. His robust pride prevented him from feeling any discouragement, but he was always irritable, and in that state of excitement, at once natural and artificial, which is characteristic of actors.”
“What I admire in the Gitanjali is that it is uncluttered with mythologies,” wrote the French modernist Andre Gide, who also, in the neurotically productive way of many of the twentieth century’s great modernists, happened to be Tagore’s translator. “What I admire about the Gitanjali is that one does not need any preparation to read it. And although it would probably be worthwhile to know how it relates to the traditions of ancient India, it might be even more interesting to consider how it addresses us.”
Earlier this year The Caravan, in association with the World Writers’ Festival, an initiative of Columbia University and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, called for young Indian writers to participate in the Writers of India Festival, which is now on in Paris from 18 to 21 September 2014. Our finalists join writers and critics such as Akeel Bilgrami, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Vikram Chandra and Kiran Desai in what promises to be a fruitful meeting between new and established writers.
In early September 1977, when the space probes Voyager 1 and 2 were launched by NASA to explore the interstellar medium, they carried with them a collection of gramophone records. On one of these discs was a recording of Kesarbai Kerkar’s Jaat Kahaan Ho, an interpretation of Raga Bhairavi and the only Indian selection among other works by Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.
The Bosnian film director Danis Tanović’s sixth feature film, Tigers, which stars Emraan Hashmi, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September, and was screened again on 13 September. It tells the story of Ayan, a college dropout and pharmaceutical representative in Sialkot, Pakistan, who applies for a position as a sales rep for multinational company Lasta’s infant formula products at the suggestion of his new wife, Zainab. He quickly becomes a rising star, charming doctors and nurses as he wines and dines them on Lasta money. However, when Ayan realises that the infant formula he’s peddling is the inadvertent cause of death of babies born to poor and illiterate Pakistani parents, he decides to pick a fight with the corporate giant by resigning and then blowing the whistle on their unethical ways.
On Friday, P Sathasivam, who retired as chief justice of India on 26 April, was sworn in as the governor of the state of Kerala. Although there is no bar against the selection of a former judge to a gubernatorial position, the appointment raises significant questions that strike at the heart of the independence of the judiciary.