Archive for May, 2006

MANJU KAPUR’S “HOME” TOPS INDIA’S FICTION CHARTS

Manju Kapur’s third novel, "Home", released in April 2006 (Delhi: Random
House India; London: Faber and Faber), swiftly topped India’s best-selling
fiction chart.
**
It has a contemporary setting, but marks a return to traditional Indian
milieux, in the shape of the conservative world-view of the Banwari Lals, a
joint family of traders in the clothing business who live in Karol Bagh, a
commercial district of Delhi. "Home" deftly interweaves the lives and
(mostly arranged) marriages of several generations of this family – by
their own admission, a collective of "old-fashioned people" (174) ("Raju
was allowed a glimpse of the girl, though his opinion was the least
important. What did the boy know of life, that he should be allowed
decisions?") (249). The central interest is the abortive revolt of one of
the younger members, Nisha, who strives after a love-match – with a
boyfriend who buys up elite students’ tutorial papers to win her
underserved academic success at college – and briefly runs her own fashion
mail-order business from the family’s basement, yet in the end cannot
prevail over custom and tradition.
**
The reading public has reacted enthusiastically, as we learn from the
response of a British cricketer who was touring India when the book came
out: "English fast bowler Matthew Hoggard partially succeeded in making
sense of India courtesy of Manju Kapur’s latest novel "Home", which he read
during his cricket tour: ‘"Home" was a good book with which to start the
tour, an intriguing insight into the intricacies of traditional Indian
family life’"’ (‘Cricketer Hoggard "reads" India’, 20 April 2006,
http://onlypunjab.com/fullstory2k5-insight-news-status-26-newsID-96873.html)
. With equal enthusiasm, Kapur’s fellow novelist Kiran Nagarkar declared:
"Manju Kapur is one of the most perceptive chroniclers of that microcosm of
the nation state: the joint family. The narrative voice is deceptively
soft, for Kapur lays it all bare – conflicting loyalties, intrigues,
triumphs, and tragedies" (quoted in ‘IndiaClub Editorial’:
http://www.indiaclub.com/shop/SearchResults.asp?ProdStock=18464).
**
For "Home" as fiction chart-topper, see: Indo Asian News Service, "M.J.
Akbar, Manju Kapur bestselling authors of the week", 27 April 2006,
http://in.news.yahoo.com/060427/43/63tpg.html
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Libro “Sexualidades alternativas en el arte y la cultura de la India” de Ana García-Arroyo

En la Casa Asia de Barcelona (Diagonal 373), Auditorio Tagore el 14 de junio
(miércoles) de 2006 a las 19h., tendrá lugar el estreno del libro
"Sexualidades alternativas en el arte y la cultura de la India", de la
autoría de Ana García-Arroyo y publicada por Ellas Editorial
(
www.ellaseditorial.com).
**
En este estudio, el primero de estas características a realizarse en el
mercado del Estado español, la autora pretende traer a colación la
historia, casi siempre sumergida o distorsionada, de la ‘otra’ realidad
afectiva y sexual de la cultura india, la que hoy día correspondería a las
sexualidades alternativas.
**
Entre los textos y l@s escritor@s citad@s y analizad@s en el libro, sean de
la tradición autóctona o de habla inglesa, destacamos, los nombres
siguientes: el RigVeda; el Panchatantra; el Kamasutra; la tradición ghazal;
la cineasta Deepa Mehta; Vikram Seth; Suniti Namjoshi; Kamala Das; Mahesh
Dattani; y R. Raj Rao.
**
Citamos unos extractos de la introducción de la autora:
**
"La gran variedad de mitos, historias populares y documentos ensayísticos
de la época antigua, medieval y moderna demuestran la existencia de
diferentes sexualidades alternativas en la cultura india, que reafirman un
legado homoerótico en la India."
**
"La primera parte de este ensayo, "Una mirada al pasado", examina los
principales textos de la tradición budista, hinduista y musulmana que
narran el homoerotismo entre hombres, entre mujeres, entre dioses y entre
diosas. Mitos procedentes del Kamasutra, el Mahabharata, el Ramayana o la
cultura sufista, por ejemplo, nos ofrecen diferentes perspectivas y
significados para entender la sexualidad humana. Esta primera parte también
analiza el proceso cultural de homogeneización llevado a cabo por el
imperio colonial británico primero, y por los nacionalistas indios después
de la independencia. Durante este proceso muchas de las distintas
tradiciones, así como materiales literarios, son readaptados (re-escritos)
en una versión uniforme y única."
**
"La segunda parte de este estudio, "Arte y activismo en la India
contemporánea", documenta el proceso histórico seguido en la construcción,
(o podríamos decir re-construcción) de sexualidades alternativas en el
mundo contemporáneo indio. Dentro del terreno artístico y del activismo
político examino las dos últimas décadas del siglo XX y los primeros años
del nuevo milenio."
**
La autora añade: "Mi énfasis se ha centrado principalmente en el trabajo de
las personas pioneras que, gracias a su tenaz empeño, han hecho posible la
reinvención y el redescubrimiento de conductas e identidades sexuales, así
como de los diferentes significados e interpretaciones del arte amatorio."
En este marco, y sin pertenecer él mismo a la comunidad en cuestión, el
responsible de esta bitácora quiere subrayar el gran interés de este
proyecto de Ana García-Arroyo (quien ya tradujo al castellano a la
destacada autora lesbiana india, Suniti Namjoshi), no sólo en términos
sociológicos, literarios o de estudios culturales, sino también a la luz de la
lucha de cada un@ por una vida más digna y libre de estereotipos y
prejuicios.

**

También existe una versión inglesa de este libro:

Ana Garcia-Arroyo
The Construction of Queer Culture in India:
Pioneers and Landmarks

Barcelona: Ellas Editorial, 2006
.

NOTA AGREGADA el 4 de enero de 2008:

He reseñado este libro (texto únicamente disponible en castellano), en:

Babel: Aspectos de Filoloxía Inglesa e Alemá (Universidade de Vigo, Galicia, Spain), No 16, 2007, pp. 179-188; en línea (en mi sitio Yatra):: http://yatrarollason.info/files/AnaGAreviewrev.pdf

Igualmente, la totalidad de dicho número 16 de BABEL está disponible en:

http://issuu.com/babelafial/docs/babel_afial_16

**

Nota añadida el 14-4-08:

véanse también estas reseñas de la versión inglesa:

por Subhash Chandra,

Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 16, March 2008

http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue16/chandra_review.htm

 

y por Elisa Santucci,

Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate, 2006

http://www.wbenjamin.org/santucci.html

SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH OF ‘IN DIALOGUE WITH SARAMAGO’, MANCHESTER, 10 MAY 2006

 

 

10 May 2006 saw the official launch, on the premises of Manchester
University, of the volume IN DIALOGUE WITH SARAMAGO: ESSAYS IN COMPARATIVE
LITERATURE (details on this blog, entry for 25 April), edited by Dr Mark Sabine and Dr Adriana
Alves de Paula Martins and published by the University of Manchester.
Present were the two editors, one of the contributors (Dr Christopher
Rollason), the Portuguese Consul in Manchester and, as guest speaker, Dr
Ana Paula Arnaut of the Romance Languages department of the University of
Coimbra, as well as a broad cross-section of academics, students and
general readers.
**
Here is an extract from Ana Paula’s speech:
**
"Mark Sabine and Adriana Martins underline that the main aims of In
Dialogue with José Saramago were both to locate “his work in relation to
current delineations of a canon of western literature”, and to exam¬ine
“his response to a post¬modern aesthetics of quotation and his assessment
of the political implications of quoting and rewriting” (…) This volume on
Saramago is therefore a fundamental contribution to the understanding of
Saramago’s work and consequently a proof that in what concerns Saramago’s
literary production, and also in what concerns critical studies on his
work, there has been no resignation at all."
**
And here is an excerpt, as quoted by Ana Paula in her speech, from my own
contribution to the book, on Saramago and Orwell: "One of the notable features of Saramago’s more recent novels is the near
total disappearance of the intense portugalidade of the books that made his
name. The earlier Saramago in some respects paralleled Orwell’s
Anglocentric side in implicitly stressing Portugal’s cultural specificity
or, in "A Jangada de Pedra", dramatizing the notion of Iberian difference
from the rest of Europe. It could be argued that this cultural specificity
embraces particular historical practices of totalitarianism, or at least
its authoritarian antecedents, as represented in Memorial do Convento and
O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis. As in Orwell’s novel, the absolute monarchy
of King João V (1706–50) and Salazar’s dictatorial Estado Novo in the
mid-1930s are both regimes whose demand for obedience and uniformity of
thought, behaviour, and identity goes hand in hand with the scapegoating
and persecution of minorities, with imperialist exploitation, with
repressive state apparatuses, censorship, and surveillance. (…). What is
distinctive about the oppressive environment of the five novels from 1995
on is the depersonalized, featureless urban space which their characters
inhabit. All are set in and around the same nameless capital of a nameless
country. While this capital city bears a vague generic resemblance to
Lisbon, it is stripped of distinguishing features and, to a large extent,
of history, thanks, one might conjecture, to the undermining of cultural
particularity by the homogenizing pressure of globalization."

**

You can see 4 photos from the launch, featuring variously Ana Paula Arnaut (reading out her speech), Adriana Martins, Mark Sabine, Christopher Rollason and Hilary Owen.

Interview with Amitav Ghosh – ‘Magazine Littéraire’, June 06

The June 06 issue of ‘Magazine Littéraire’ (France) carries an interesting interview with Amitav Ghosh (‘Amitav Ghosh: “Je pense en bengali”‘ – ‘Amitav Ghosh: “I think in Bengali”‘, interviewed by Jean-Claude Perrier, ‘Magazine Littéraire’, No 454, June 06, p. 77. It ties in with the release of the French version of ‘The Hungry Tide’, Amitav’s novel of 204 (‘Le Pays des marées’ [literally, ‘The Tide Country’], tr. Christiane Besse, Paris: Robert Laffont). Ghosh states his intention to return from the US in the near future to live permanently in Kolkata, where he will start work on his next project, a trilogy, apparently with a Bengali setting, starting in the early 19th century and continuing up to modern times. He adds that, though he writes in English, he thinks in Bengali, which language strongly influences his English. It is also stated that ‘The Hungry Tide’, together with an article in the Bengali press, had the effect of deterring the West Bengal state government from an ecologically dubious project for the ‘tourist development’ of the Sundarbans!
**
Elsewhere on this blog is a reference to my own study of ‘The Hungry Tide’, at: http://yatrarollason.info/files/GhoshHungryTide.pdf .

UNIVERSITY OF CORDOBA (SPAIN): SEMINAR ON INDIAN LITERATURE, 13 June 2006

Here is the programme of the seminar: "LA MORADA DE LA PAZ: CONVERSACIONES
ENTRE INDIA Y EUROPA",

("THE ABODE OF PEACE: CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND EUROPE"),

to be held in Córdoba, under the auspices of the University, on 13 June
2006.

**

The seminar, organised by Dr Antonia Navarro Tejero,

will include the participation of the writers Sunny Singh

and Manju Kapur, as well as of the Ambassador of India

(also my own).

**

My own contribution will take the form of a general introduction to the
work of Manju Kapur

(morning session), and (evening session) readings of extracts from her
novels, in the

excellent Spanish translations of Dora Sales Salvador.

**

PROGRAMME:

**

"La morada de la paz: conversaciones entre India y Europa"

**

Organised by the Department of English and German Studies, University of
Córdoba

13 June 2006

**

MORNING:

Aula Magna, Facultad Filosofía y Letras, UCO

9.00 Official opening session

9.30 H.E. the Ambassador of India, Suryakanthi Tripathi: "Crying for
Kurukshetra: the Predicament of a Woman"

10.00 Majid Padar, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of India: "Spain through
Indian Eyes"

10.30 Break

11.00 Christopher Rollason: "Manju Kapur: Chronicles of Indian Womanhood"

11.30 Manju Kapur: "An Indian Writer talks about her Work"

12:00 Break

12.30 Eva González de Lucas, Cervantes Institute, New Delhi:
"Teaching Spanish Literature in India: minding the gap!"

13.00 Sunny Singh: "Saints and Warriors: Women and Power in the Indian
Tradition"

**

EVENING:

Palacio de Orive

19.00 Antonia Navarro Tejero: "La literatura india: un acercamiento entre
mujeres"

19.30 Reading – Suryakanthi Tripathi, read by Majid Padar

20.00 Manju Kapur, read by Christopher Rollason

20.30 Sunny Singh, read by Eva González de Lucas

21.00 Official closing session

UNIVERSIDAD DE CÓRDOBA: SEMINARIO SOBRE LITERATURA INDIA – 13-6-2006:

He aquí el programa del seminario "LA MORADA DE LA PAZ:
CONVERSACIONES ENTRE INDIA Y EUROPA",
que tendrá lugar en Córdoba, bajo la égida de la Universidad, el 13 de
junio de 2006.
**
El seminario, organizado por la Dra Antonia Navarro Tejero,
contará con la participación de las escritoras Sunny Singh
y Manju Kapur y de la Embajadora de la India
(además de la mía).
**
Yo por mi parte daré una charla general sobre la obra de Manju Kapur
en la sesiuón de la mañana, y en la de la tarde leeré algunos trozos de sus
novelas, en las excelentes traducciones de Dora Sales.
**
PROGRAMA:
**
“La morada de la paz: conversaciones entre India y Europa”
**
Dpto. Filologías Inglesa y Alemana, Universidad de Córdoba
13 de junio de 2006
**

MAÑANA:

Aula Magna, Facultad Filosofía y Letras, UCO

9.00 Apertura oficial del Seminario

9.30 Excma. Sra. Embajadora de India Suryakanthi Tripathi: “Crying for
Kurukshetra: the Predicament of a Woman”

10.00 Majid Padar, Agregado Cultural Embajada de India: “Spain through
Indian Eyes”

10.30 Descanso

11.00 Christopher Rollason: “Manju Kapur: Chronicles of Indian Womanhood”

11.30 Manju Kapur, escritora: “An Indian Writer talks about her Work”

12:00 Descanso

12.30 Eva Gonzalez de Lucas, responsable Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi:
“Teaching Spanish Literature in India: minding the gap!”

13.00 Sunny Singh, escritora: “Saints and Warriors: Women and Power in the
Indian Tradition”
**

TARDE:

Palacio de Orive

19.00 Antonia Navarro Tejero “La literatura india: un acercamiento entre
mujeres”

19.30 Lectura de Suryakanthi Tripathi interpretada por Majid Padar

20.00 Manju Kapur interpretada por Christopher Rollason

20.30 Sunny Singh interpretada por Eva González de Lucas

21.00 Clausura oficial del Seminario

Multi-author study, ‘THE EXPATRIATE INDIAN WRITING IN ENGLISH’, eds. T. Vinoda and P. Shaijala

Just published in Delhi is an important new multi-author study of Indian diasporic writing (in which I have two contributions), edited to very high professional standards from Kakatiya University, Warangal, India, and introduced by the University’s Vice-Chancellor: ** THE EXPATRIATE INDIAN WRITING IN ENGLISH (3 vols.), eds. T. Vinoda and P. Shaijala, New Delhi: Prestige, 2006, ISBN (vol. I), 81-7551-181-8, (vol. II), 81-7551-182-6, (vol. III), 81-7551-183-4. ** For further details from Prestige, contact: rkdhawan@gmail.com. There is also a BOOK BLOG at: http://expatriateindianwritinginenglish.blogspot.com/ **

Vol. I contains essays, by scholars based in India, the US, Spain, Italy, Finland and France, on diasporic authors including Bharati Mukherjee, Suniti Namjoshi, Anita Rau Badami, Amulya Malludi, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sunetra Gupta, Vikram Seth, Ved Mehta, M.G. Vassanji and Shani Mootoo. ** Vol. II brings together the proceedings of the National Seminar on Expatriate Writing in English held at Kakatiya University in September 2005. ** Vol. III contains a full bibliography of Indian diasporic writing in English. ** The full ToC is rather long, but I can supply it on request. I draw attention, in particular, to the following contributions to Vol. I: ** Ana García Arroyo, ‘Suniti Namjoshi’s Fancy and Facts: A Convergence of Indian and Western Influences’, 100-108 T. Vinoda, ‘New Valences for the Indian Diaspora: The Second Generation in Jhumpa Lahiri’s "The Namesake", 141-153 Somdatta Mandal, ‘"Calcutta Syndrome": A Study of Sunetra Gupta and Jhumpa Lahiri’, 154-168 Christopher Rollason, ‘Vikram Seth’s "Two Lives": A Literature of Global Protagonism’, 171-183 Felicity Hand, ‘Fight or Flight? – Tensions in Ved Mehta’s Early Autobiographical Works’, 184-193 T. Vinoda (moderator), Somdatta Mandal and Christopher Rollason, ‘Issues in Diasporic Discourse: A Dialogue’, 303-314.

** Below are 3 photos from the official launch at Dr Vinoda’s institution, Kakatiya UNiversity, Warangal (Andhra Pradesh) – group photo; Dr T. Vinoda; Dr T. Vinoda with Dr M. Rajeshwar.

Note added 14 July 2009:

A website has now been created at:

www.vinodashivkumarpublications.com/

showcasing the careers and publications of Prof. T. Vinoda and her husband Prof. Shiv Kumar, also of Kakatiya University. This site includes the full texts of numerous articles and creative pieces by both. The articles span issues of literature, language, translation and film studies. Featured in full are some of the texts from ‘The Expatriate Writing in English’, among them the conversation (see above) between Dr Vinoda, Somdatta Mandal and myself, at:

www.vinodashivkumarpublications.com/issues-in-diasporic-discourse