Prufrock's Page

Friday, June 30, 2006

Mr Dangerous, Mumtaz And The Barber Lover

The current online issue of Agni, Boston University's literary magazine edited by Sven Birkerts, has two pieces of interest for readers from India. The first is an essay entitled Mr Dangerous and Mumtaz, by Liesl Schwabe, and deals with her relationship with "Mr Dangerous", a tout-cum-guide, and Mumtaz, a creator of prayer beads, during her stay in Bodh Gaya. It's filled with detail, and resistant to easy conclusions. The second is an extract from Canadian writer Padma Viswanathan's novel-in-progress, a work set in the south India of the 1930s. Entitled The Barber Lover and written in a consciously plain style, it tells of the plight of a barber whose task it is to shave the heads of widowed Brahmin women.

(Incidentally, both are difficult to read off the computer screen because of the site's annoying use of reverse type on a dark green background. Try a "select all" -- makes it easier on the eyes.)

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