Prufrock's Page

Friday, August 17, 2007

Godfrey And Srinivasa

At The Elegant Variation, Mark Sarvas waxes eloquent over David Leavitt's new novel, The Indian Clerk: "It is, simply, our favorite book of the year thus far..." And it sounds promising indeed, based as it is on the unlikely relationship between G.H. Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan. TEV promises weeklong activity devoted to the book, including guest posts by Leavitt, an interview and a signed book giveaway. Get thee hence.

Those Special Indian Prices

Just as one was wondering whether the stronger rupee has made book prices more reasonable in this country -- yesterday, one picked up a new hardback copy of Ryszard Kapuscinski's Travels With Herodotus for Rs 460 -- comes this article by Ravi Vyas on why Indian publishers don't acquire rights for even more overseas titles, making them more affordable: "...the basic reason is simple: our publishers are unable to link a forthcoming book to its potential market in India. The ability to ‘connect’ isn’t as simple as it sounds because it requires years of experience, an understanding of market trends as well as a wide range of reading on various subjects. "

The Sportswriter Writer

"If reading or writing is a daily small fight, though, it squares off with my overall picture of Richard Ford: intense, battling, driven - yet also charming, courteous, and writing with great emotional exactitude."

- A down and dirty interview by David Robinson

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wood, No Softie

“I have no intention of going soft. I intend to be a critic, which means, as Eliot once put it, ‘the elucidation of texts and the correction of taste.’ If I annoy people who publish stories or who have extracts published in The New Yorker, that will be the editor’s problem, not mine! After all, it’ll be him they complain to, not me.”

- Critic James Wood, who recently moved from The New Republic to The New Yorker. (The piece is studded with comments, including this one by TNR editor Leon Wieseltier, who said of Remnick's offer to Wood: “It’s pointless to be angry at rich people for shopping.”)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

British And Jewish

American-Jewish fiction? Everyone's read it. But British-Jewish fiction? Er....what's that? Enter Charlotte Mendelson.

The Freedom To Write

"The upheaval we are caught up in is so vast, and so uncertain - is this the best of times? the worst? - that Indian writing has barely begun to take the measure of the conditions in which it functions."

- Siddhartha Deb on the legacy of empire in Indian literature. Meanwhile, Hirsh Sawhney resurrects an old, indignant question: "With healthy literary traditions in over 20 official languages, why is so much more attention paid to the small number of Indian authors writing in English?" (Don't try asking Sir Salman that.) And here's Kamila Shamsie on the history of the English-language novel in Pakistan

A Reader's Manifesto

Before Dale Peck, as one has pointed out, there was B.R. Myers. The Atlantic has made available online the original 2001 article, which led to the book, subtitled "an attack on the growing pretentiousness of American literary prose". Worth reading for its uncompromising assessment of the prose of Moody, McCarthy, deLillo and other darlings of the literary establishment.

(An earlier post on Myers is here.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Need To Do Your Work

"I saw it as the fundamental and shaping struggle in each, the need to do your work in the face of the socio-economic reality. There was no place in society for your work, as with Cézanne, van Gogh and the rest. Your only requirement was to do their work. Who the fuck were they? These bastards. Who wants to do their work? Let them do it themselves, tell them to go and fuck.

"Young writers seek bonds of solidarity with older generations; we look for things in common. If a writer comes to mean something to us we want to discover affinities. How did they live their life? What hardships did they endure to pursue their art? How long did it take them to write a story? Kafka did The Metamorphosis in a couple of nights. Oh, I don't believe it, no, no, for godsake, no."

- James Kelman on his early writing struggles

Join The Banned

Melanie Kumar casts a beady eye at books that have been banned for various reasons, from obscenity to superstition. (She doesn't mention Stanley Wolpert or James Laine, surprisingly.) In passing, here's an earlier piece in The Guardian that asks five experts what they'd do when confronted by a controversial artist's'work.