Prufrock's Page

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Book Or Movie?

Get ready for impassioned debate: Atonement, The Kite Runner, Love in the Time of Cholera, Into the Wild and even Revolutionary Road are all coming soon to a multiplex near you.

Magda Mandela

A new short story by Hari Kunzru in the latest New Yorker, dealing with "the daughter of Nelson Mandela, major world leader and savior of his country".

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Lament For The Novella

The indefatigable Literary Saloon alerts one to the debut of The New Haven Review of Books, and browsing though its contents, one came across an interesting and indignant piece by author Gregory Feeley lamenting the decline of the novella: "[It] is thriving in theory but not in practice, which has polarized around the Big Novel and (to a lesser degree) the short story. Unable to make it in the commercial markets, the novella has been driven into various niches of American publishing, like tiny creatures escaping predators. Lamenting this can induce readers to nod sympathetically, but I’m not sure how many truly care."

(An earlier piece on the novella's charms, by this guy, is here.)

Deb On Tokyo Year Zero

It doesn't matter if you haven't read the book in question, or even if you're only vaguely aware of it: Siddharth Deb's book reviews are always worth reading.

Bastiat Boy

A round of applause, please, for India Uncut's Amit Varma, who's just been nominated for the 2007 Bastiat Prize for Journalism, aiming to honour writers “whose work cleverly and wittily promotes the institutions of the free society,” named after French philosopher and essayist Frédéric Bastiat. Amit gets the nod for his pieces in Mint, and what's notable is that he's the only writer from Asia to make the shortlist. His post announcing the details is here, with links to the articles he submitted for consideration. Well done.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Oh Man

Edward Docx. Catherine O'Flynn. Tan Twan Eng. Never heard of them? Well they're among the authors on this year's 13-strong Man Booker longlist, called "giant-felling" by Waterstone's. Ian McEwan is one of the familiar names to make the cut, and a tenuous Indian connection is upheld by Indra Sinha (who must at last be feeling vindicated in leaving advertising) and debutante Nikita Lalwani. And let's not forget Mohsin Hamid, who's on the list as well.

(Here's Kiran Desai on the effects of winning the Booker last year: "...the greatest impact on my life is feeling I might be more eccentric in my work in the future...")

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Second-hand, First-rate

Although the Internet and big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco are taking business away from smaller bookstores that sell new books, proprietors of used bookstores in Berkshire County [Mass.] say they are doing just fine. (Meanwhile, of course, Mumbai's pavement booksellers continue to languish.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Ills Of Empire

In the new New Yorker, Pankaj Mishra reviews Alex von Tunzelmann's Indian Summer, using the space to reprise the events leading up to Independence, and ending with an attempt to connect that event with the state of the world today: "Meeting Mountbatten a few months after partition, Churchill assailed him for helping Britain’s 'enemies,' 'Hindustan,' against 'Britain’s friends,' the Muslims. Little did Churchill know that his expedient boosting of political Islam would eventually unleash a global jihad engulfing even distant New York and London. The rival nationalisms and politicized religions the British Empire brought into being now clash in an enlarged geopolitical arena; and the human costs of imperial overreaching seem unlikely to attain a final tally for many more decades."

Another Voice From Burma

Among those on the longlist for the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize is Nu Nu Yi, "one of only a handful of writers who dares to paint accurate portraits of life" in Burma. Here's a heartening interview that spotlights the courage of writers living under a regime that curtails so many things that the rest of us take for granted: “Because I hold my beliefs firmly, I have had many difficulties. But I decided to take risks to be a dutiful writer. The biggest difficulty is that there is no freedom to create art. If a writer reveals the feelings and the real lives of people when she writes, that is a political act - even though she is only writing for the benefit of our country.”

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Let Us Now Praise Famous Works

"It is not a romantic novel, though it is a very passionate one. It is anti-romantic. It does not lead from frustrated love to fulfilled love to climactic marriage. It begins with the mistaken marriage choices of its 'heroine' and 'hero' and shows the inexorable workings of their coming to terms with their folly."

- A.S. Byatt waxes eloquent on Eliot's Middlemarch.

...and Sean O'Hagan assesses Kerouac's On The Road, 50 years on:

"...On the Road continues to be read. What was once a zeitgeist book, though, and one that defined a transformative moment in postwar culture, has become a historical artefact. It may even be the case that today's teenagers read On the Road in much the same way that my generation read Laurie Lee's picaresque rites-of-passage novel As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning - as a glimpse into an already distant past when things seemed simpler."