Archive for the ‘Books’ Category



The Frankfurt Book Fair coincides each October, at least approximately, with the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and this time round, 2010 saw a full house for Latin America, with the Fair from 6 to 10 October dedicated to Argentina and Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa lifting a much-accoladed Nobel on the second day. Both events, indeed, have, as I see it, in their different ways helped boost the already strong credibility of Latin American literature and culture on the world stage. Vargas Llosa’s Literature Nobel was the 11th for the Spanish language, the 6th for Latin America, the first for Peru and the first for any Hispanophone author since the 1990 award to Mexico’s Octavio Paz. Peru became the sixth Spanish-speaking country to be honoured with the prize, joining Spain (5), Chile (2), Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico: the whole country celebrated on the streets, « as if we’d won the World Cup »!. In Spain, El País featured ‘Nobel Vargas Llosa’ as the day’s banner headline, devoting its lead editorial and a sixteen-page special to the award. It was front-page news too in the German and Italian press, and even in the International Herald Tribune. A few days later, Latin America’s international profile was further raised by the rescue of the 33 miners in Chile and the praise it generated worldwide.

The Spanish-speaking presence in Frankfurt was impressive, with Argentina obviously at centre stage, but with strong representation too from Spain, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Venezuela and elsewhere. The main Spanish publishers and numerous Spanish university presses were out in force, Catalonia and Galicia included. Mexico was represented by the Fondo de Cultura Económica and the Centro de Promoción del Libro Mexicano. The Peruvian stand seemed, alas, uninterested in improvising a Nobel tie-in, but on the last day it was possible to buy hardback omnibus editions of Vargas Llosa’s works, from the stand of the Spanish publisher Círculo de Lectores. The new Nobel laureate is not exactly an admirer of the present government in Venezuela, but notable nonetheless on that country’s stand was the collection of classic works offered by the Venezuelan Book Distribution Foundation (Fundación Distribuidora Venezolana del Libro) at prices accessible to the people (a literary equivalent of Venezuela’s successful ‘Sistema’ for classical music) – as proven by the same books being sold here in Europe for a mere 5 euros. By contrast and although a few titles were given away (including an English/Spanish bilingual anthology of Argentinian poetry), the great majority of the Argentinian books on display were not for sale at any point during the Fair.

Despite this, overall the Argentinian presence was powerful and convincing, with maximum use of graphic design to attract and impress. The logos – « Argentina, Cultura en Movimiento » (« Argentina, Culture in Movement ») and « 200 Años – Bicentenario Argentino » (« 200 Years – Argentinian Bicentennial ») ably exploited the national colours, blue, white and yellow; the fair’s main restaurant served up puchero (stew) and other Argentinian dishes; the Argentinian pavilion made maximum use of visual impact in foregrounding the country’s writers and culture; the unfolding sequence of lectures and round tables on Argentinian themes was backed up by a graphic slideshow with cartoons, cityscapes, dinosaurs (a national treasure) and more. Among the lectures may specially be mentioned that by Maria Kodama, Jorge Luis Borges’ widow, who held the audience spellbound with both her official subject of « Borges and Iceland » and her reminiscences of the great writer. Vargas Llosa had received the announcement of his long-delayed Nobel with a rider as to whether he should take a prize that Borges never got ( – a remark which, relayed to Maria Kodama by a member of the audience, was embraced by her as a « noble gesture ».

Meanwhile, Argentina’s strong performance in Frankfurt points up the undoubted vitality and energy of the Spanish language and its cultures, as stronger competitors than most to the real, if sometimes exaggerated, dangers of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ cultural hegemony and the dominance of English. Here, though, I would end on a cautionary note. Much of the Argentinian publicity material at the Fair was not in Spanish at all, or indeed German, but in English – an English, unfortunately, obviously lacking any native-speaker input in drafting or revision and suffering from all the vagueness and approximateness that tends to characterise much non-native English. Given away was a special edition of Eñe, the cultural supplement of the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín, full of potentially valuable information on subjects like Borges and the tango, but consisting of made-in-Argentina translations into English (even a retro-translation of an interview with Harold Bloom) of such fuzziness as to make the texts certainly unquotable and probably unusable for any academic purpose. If, as the evidence of the Fair suggests, Spanish has the potential to compete with English, its speakers will need a better mastery of the competitor’s language, if only to know what they are up against. For the rest, the slogan in the wake of Frankfurt, fortified by the felicitous coincidence of Vargas Llosa’s Nobel, can only be: ¡adelante!

Frankfurt Book Fair – official site:

Another view of the Fair (in Spanish) – – Manuel Rodríguez Rivero, “Monográfico de Fráncfort (mit Vargas)”, El País (internacional, supl. Babelia), 16-X-2010, p. 18

Vargas Llosa’s Nobel – English: Radhika Jones, ‘Vargas Llosa: Nobel Goes for Well-Known Name”, Time, 7-X-2010,,8599,2024149,00.html

Spanish: Juan Cruz, “Zavalita gana el Nobel ”, El País (internacional), 8-X-2010, p. 46 y siguientes  – (title of Web version = “Zavalita conquista el Nobel”)

‘Vargas Llosa: “Me avergüenza recibir el Nobel que no recibió Borges”’, PERFIL (Buenos Aires), 7-X-2010,


Photos include images of Maria Kodama’s lecture.




La Feria del Libro de Frankfurt coincide cada octubre, al menos aproximadamente, con la concesión del Premio Nobel de Literatura. Esta vez le tocó un doble protagonismo a América Latina, con la Feria, entre el 6 y el 10 de octubre, hallándose dedicada a Argentina y, en el segundo día, la aclamada noticia del Nobel del peruano Mario Vargas Llosa. Puede afirmarse que ambos eventos han contribuido a reforzar aún más el ya destacado perfil de las literaturas y culturas iberoamericanas en la arena mundial. El Premio Nobel de Literatura de Vargas Llosa fue el undécimo para el idioma castellano, el sexto para América Latina, el primero para Perú y el primero en ser otorgado a cualquier autor hispano desde que lo recibió el mexicano Octavio Paz en 1990. Así, Perú se convirtió en el sexto país del área hispanohablante en ser galardonado con el premio, sumándose a España (5), Chile (2), Colombia, Guatemala y México: la noticia hizo que todo el país saliera a la calle, “¡como si hubiéramos ganado el Mundial!”. En España, El País proclamó en primera plana ‘Nobel Vargas Llosa’, consagrando su editorial principal y una sección especial de 16 páginas al galardón. La noticia también llegó a primera plana en la prensa alemana e italiana, e incluso en la International Herald Tribune. Días más tarde, el mismo perfil internacional de América Latina fue ensalzado aún más por el rescate de los 33 mineros en Chile y las alabanzas que esa operación suscitó por el mundo.

Fue impresionante la presencia hispana en Frankfurt, con Argentina, evidentemente, en el centro de todo, pero con fuerte representación también de países como España, México, Chile, Perú, Venezuela y otros. Hubo una nutrida presencia de las principales editoriales españolas y de numerosa prensa universitaria de ese país, sin olvidar a Cataluña o Galicia.  México fue representado por el Fondo de Cultura Económica y el Centro de Promoción del Libro Mexicano. En el puesto peruano, no se notó cualquier iniciativa específica para aprovechar el Nobel, pero en el último día fue posible adquirir las obras completas de Vargas Llosa en el puesto de la editorial española Círculo de Lectores. Se sabe que el nuevo Nobel no es precisamente admirador del actual gobierno de Venezuela, pero en el puesto de ese país cabía destacar la colección de obras clásicas propuestas por la Fundación Distribuidora Venezolana del Libro) a precios abordables para el pueblo (un equivalente literario del conocido “Sistema” venezolano que tan buena cosecha ha dado en el ámbito de la música clásica) – fenómeno comprobado por el hecho de que los mismos libros se vendían aquí en Europa por unos 5 euros. En cambio y a pesar de que se regalaban algunos volúmenes representativos – entre otros una antología bilíngüe (inglés/castellano) de poesía argentina – la casi totalidad de los libros argentinos expuestos no se pudieron comprar en ningún momento de la Feria.

No obstante, la presencia argentina fue poderosa y convincente, señalándose el muy exitoso aprovechamiento del diseño gráfico para atraer e impresionar. Los logos – « Argentina, Cultura en Movimiento » y « 200 Años – Bicentenario Argentino » – explotaron habilmente los colores nacionales, azul, blanco y amarillo; en el principal restaurante de la Feria uno podía conocer el puchero y otros platos nacionales; el pabellón argentino apostó con brio en el impacto visual para promover a los escritores del país austral; la secuencia continua de conferencias y mesas redondas en temas argentinos fue respaldada por una galería de diapositivas con viñetas, paisajes urbanos, dinosaurios (un tesoro naconal) y más. Entre las conferencias, merece destaque especial la dictada por Maria Kodama, la viuda de Borges, que hipnotizó al público tanto en su tema oficial de ‘Borges e Islandia’ como en sus recuerdos del genial escritor. Vargas Llosa había acogido la noticia de su tardío Nobel con la confesión: “Me avergüenza recibir el Nobel que no recibió Borges” – comentario que, repetido por alguien del público a Maria Kodama, le mereció la conmovida calificación de “gesto noble”.

Mientras tanto, el impresionante éxito argentino en Frankfurt sirve para señalar la innegable vitalidad y energía de la lengua castellana y sus culturas, como más capaces que muchas de proponer alternativas a los peligros, reales si bien a veces exagerados, de la hegemonía cultural anglosajona y el imperio del inglés. Aquí sin embargo, creo necesario terminar con cierta matización. Gran parte del material publicitario argentino en la Feria se hallaba escrita no en español (ni tampoco en alemán), sino en un inglés al que muy evidentemente le faltaba cualquier aportación nativa, aunque fuera revisión – padeciendo, asi, de esa vaguedad e indefinición que a menudo son rasgos del inglés no nativo. Regalábase una edición especial de Eñe, suplemento cultural del rotativo porteño Clarín, rebosante de potencialmente valiosa información en temas como Borges, el tango, etc, pero compuesta de traducciones al inglés “made in Argentina” (incluso había una retrotraducción de una entrevista con Harold Bloom) de un lenguaje tan borroso que los textos salieron ciertamente impropios para citar y, probablemente, inutilizables para cualquier fin académico. Si, como sugiere la evidencia de la Feria, el idioma castellano tiene la potencialidad para entrar en competencia con el inglés, no es menos cierto que a muchos hispanohablantes les vendría muy bien un mayor y mejor dominio de la lengua del concurrente, al menos para saber con quién y con qué están luchando. Por lo demás, después de Frankfurt el lema, fortalecido por la feliz sincronía del Nobel de Vargas Llosa, sólo puede ser uno: ¡Adelante!


Entre las fotos, la conferencia de Maria Kodama.

Feria del Libro de Frankfurt – sitio oficial:

Otra perspectiva sobre la Feria – – Manuel Rodríguez Rivero, “Monográfico de Fráncfort (mit Vargas)”, El País (internacional, supl. Babelia), 16-X-2010, p. 18

Sobre el Nobel de Vargas Llosa:

Radhika Jones, ‘Vargas Llosa: Nobel Goes for Well-Known Name”, Time, 7-X-2010,,8599,2024149,00.html

Juan Cruz, “Zavalita gana el Nobel ”, El País (internacional), 8-X-2010, p. 46 y siguientes  – (título de la versión web = “Zavalita conquista el Nobel”)

‘Vargas Llosa: “Me avergüenza recibir el Nobel que no recibió Borges”’, PERFIL (Buenos Aires), 7-X-2010,


Note/nota, 29-VII-11:

This article has been published in / Este texto ha sido publicado en:

IJOWLAC (Indian Journal of World Literature and Culture) (Kolkata/Calcutta, India), Vol. 5-6, July 2010-January 2011, pp. 143-145

See entry on this blog / véase entrada en esta bitácora – 29-VII-11




A todas mis amistades de lengua castellana, latinoamericanas y peruanas,
mis enhorabuenas por el galardón Nobel de Literatura recibido hoy por Mario Vargas Llosa,
primer peruano,
sexto latinoamericano y undecésimo autor de lengua castellana a
recibir dicho premio …
My congratulations to my Hispanophone, Latin American and Peruvian
friends on the Nobel Literature Prize awarded today to Mario Vargas LLosa,
the first Peruvian, sixth Latin American and eleventh Spanish-language
writer to receive the prize …

ARGENTINA, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, 2010 – en la Feria del Libro de FRANKFURT, 2010

This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair (6-10 October 2010) will feature Argentina as special guest of honour. Details are at :

There will be lectures and round tables on subjects including Borges and Cortázar, the tango, and the state of the Argentinian publishing industry – for an interesting article on the last-named theme, see:

        ‘The Argentine book market’, by Alejandra Rodríguez Ballester


Photo: the building where Julio Cortázar lived in Paris (rue Martel), as symbol of the Argentina-Europe link


Note added 17 October 2010: for a full report on the Fair, see entry for 16 October 2010


Este año, en la Feria del Libro de Frankfurt (6 a 10 de octubre de 2010) el país invitado es Argentina. Detalles:

Habrá conferencias y mesas redondas centradas en una amplia gama de temas, entre  otras Borges y Cortázar, el tango, y el estado del sector editorial argentino. Para un interesante texto sobre este último tema, véase:

        ‘The Argentine book market’, por Alejandra Rodríguez Ballester

Foto: el inmueble donde vivió Julio Cortázar en París (rue Martel), como símbolo del vínculo entre Argentina y Europa


Nota añadida 17-X-2010: para un reportaje detallado de la Feria, véase entrada 16-X-2010


Novelist William Wall on José Saramago and politics

Anyone interested in José Saramago could usefully look at an article at:

(Three Monkeys Online – book blog – 31 August 2010), entitled "José Saramago – an appreciation",

by William Wall, an Irish novelist who has before now been longlisted for the Booker Prize.


This article is primarily a review of the English translation (‘The Notebooks’) of Saramago’s ‘O Caderno’  – if I mistake not, the first volume of his political and general short writings to appear in English? – but it also makes some extremely valid points about the political nature (an aspect sometimes occluded) of the Nobel Laureate’s work as a whole, finding ‘The Notebook’ ‘a fascinatingly direct insight into the mind of a literary Nobel prizewinner who no longer cared very much what effect his opinions could have on his own standing, but who wanted passionately to cut through the fake discourse, the lies that he called the "other truth", that allow our modern form of semi-democracy to flourish’.


I am also pleased to note that Wall quotes and links to my own article on Saramago and Orwell (see entry on this blog for 25 April 2006):


          ‘How totalitarianism begins at home: Saramago and George Orwell’, in In Dialogue with Saramago: Essays in Comparative Literature, eds. Mark Sabine and Adriana Alves de Paula Martins, Manchester: University of Manchester, 2006, pp. 105-120;


Wall states: ‘In the USA his communism damaged his reputation – and the sales of his books – and it was divisive in Portugal where it sat awkwardly with Portuguese pride in his Nobel Prize, but in other parts of the world it was understood and welcomed, among readers of the European Left, and more particularly in South America where it was especially appreciated by the vast Lusophone population of Brazil.’ I am not sure if the remark about the USA is fair, since Saramago has certainly had a higher profile (and higher sales) there than most recent non-Anglophone writers; and the remarks about Brazil are also true of Spanish-speaking Latin America. At all events, though, this is one of the best brief introductions to the master’s work that I have seen in quite some time!


William Wall’s piece has also appeared in the on-line journal Irish Left Review (26 August 2010),

under the same title, ‘José Saramago: An Appreciation’:


It is also now on his blog (slightly amended):


Sumana Bandhyopadhay: “Indianisation of English”

 I draw the attention of those interested in Indian English, Indian literature in English and sociolinguistics to the following book, just published:


Sumana Bandhyopadhay, Indianisation of English: Analysis of Linguistic Features in Selected Post-1980 Indian English Fiction, New Delhi (India): Concept Publishing Company, 2010

ISBN 13-9788180697036

Hardback, xl + 184 pp.


(with foreword by Christopher Rollason)


Summary of book:




This study by Sumana Bandyopadhyay is a significant new contribution to the understanding of both Indian English and IWE (Indian Writing in English) in today’ss evolving context. The author brings together diverse strands of both linguistic and literary scholarship, laying particular stress on how Indian English has adapted to homegrown realities while remaining a major variant of a world language. The basic position that both underlies and emerges from this study is that there is an Indian standard English which is a variety of International Standard English.


This is a corpus-based analysis, and the various aspects of Indian English discussed are illustrated with examples drawn from some of the best-known living practitioners of IWE. The time-span chosen is essentially the period opened up in 1981 by Salman Rushdie’s epoch-making  Midnight’s Children. Thus, the works of the preceding IWE generation, as represented by the triad of Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao and R.K. Narayan, are not included in the corpus as such. The writers chosen, eight in number, are (male): Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Vikram Chandra, Rohinton Mistry, Amitav Ghosh, Upamanyu Chatterjee and (female): Manju Kapur and Arundhati Roy.


The corpus analysis takes in aspects of Indian English on the phonological, lexical, functional and structural levels. The phonological aspect is examined with the help of Rohinton Mistry’s novel Such a Long Journey: it is shown how Mistry’s text phonetically represents Indian phonological variants. Fictional conversations excerpted from the same novel are also employed to exemplify Indian English intonation patterns. On the lexical level, the stress is on Indianisation of vocabulary (direct imports of words from Indian languages, hybrid compounds, loan-translations, etc). Of particular interest here is the author’s comprehensive and carefully-worked glossary of Indian lexical items in Seth’s A Suitable Boy. The discussion of functional aspects prioritises such factors as the frequency of repetition in Indian English, and the creative coinage of expressions (with a useful glance at Arundhati Roy), in an analysis drawing on sociolinguistics and pragmatics.


Sumana Bandyopadhyay concludes her study by stressing, with the above examples behind her, the vital and dynamic Indianness of today’s Indian English as handled by IWE writers. All in all, this volume may be welcomed as part of the process of opening up new paths for research in a linguistic and cultural area which will increasingly be of concern to scholars in the humanities, both in India and in the new globalised universe. 



**The full text of the foreword can be found on my Yatra site at:

Homage to José Saramago, 1922-2010

As I write, it is Saturday, 19 June 2010, and one day since José Saramago left us (‘Nobel laureate José Saramago dies, aged 87’ – Richard Lea, ‘Guardian’, 18 June 2010 – I am still trying to come to terms with the absence of the Portuguese writer’s voice, as novelist and as commentator on our times.

The sheer range and variety, genetically and thematically, of Saramago’s remarkable shelf of novels is extraordinary. The dense referentiality and sense of place of ‘O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis’ / ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis’ is light-years away from the depersonalised nightmare of ‘Ensaio sobre a Cegueira’ / ‘Blindness’. The worlds of his two very last novels – the genial comedy of ‘A Viagem do Elefante’ / ‘The Elephant’s Journey’ and the despairing bleakness of ‘Caim’ / ‘Cain’ – could not have been further apart. And yet there was a remarkably consistent, trademark ‘Saramago style’, manifested in the long sentences and the avoidance of quotation marks and initial capitals.

As a novelist Saramago will remain an obligatory reference: for Harold Bloom, he was the greatest novelist of our day, in any language. Vital too, however, is his career as polemical intellectual straddling the globe. For Portuguese and Lusophone literary culture he will always be special, as the first and so far the only writer from Portugal or in Portuguese to win the Nobel. Exiled on Spanish soil, in the Canaries, he became a constant presence in literary Spain, as much a part of his adoptive as of his native culture. Known throughout the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking worlds, in Italy and in France – and even in the hard-to-crack Anglophone market, especially after the success of the film of ‘Blindness’ – he had, thanks also to his indefatigable travels and constant public profile, become an instantly recognisable emblem of the engaged writer.

I feel personally affected by this loss: my own relationship with his work was perhaps an especially close one since, unlike Bloom or indeed most of his Anglophone admirers, I read his books, as they came out, in the original, and so was able to appreciate his remarkable sense of the Portuguese language and its expressiveness and eloquence. Over the years I have been the author of a number of articles, reviews, book chapters and encyclopaedia pieces on the master and his work. I met Saramago twice, at a lecture of his in Brussels in 1999, and in Lisbon in 2006 at the launch of a volume of comparative studies of his work to which I was a contributor. His presence was unforgettable.

The tributes will go on thronging in: José Saramago meant many things to many people all over the world, but my own feeling is that we have lost a major intellectual, a novelist whose gaze extended far beyond the realm of literature and who spoke to us in a trenchant, uncompromising voice, standing up for the truth as he saw it – a voice that was as powerful and multiform as those of intellectuals like Walter Benjamin, George Orwell or Edward Said. In an epoch dominated by the siren tones of postmodernist relativism and crude subjectivism, we deeply need the likes of Saramago – intellectuals of solid beliefs and concrete values, who continue to uphold a vision of human advancement. José Saramago is irreplaceable, but his work will remain as a source of constant inspiration, a beacon lighting up humanity however dark the skies.

Below: I had the enormous honour of being photographed with Saramago in Lisbon in November 2006.





Herewith, the details of my co-edited volume of essays on the fiction of Vikram Chandra, now published in Delhi and to the best of my knowledge the first-ever critical study to be devoted in its entirety to the work of this very important contemporary writer:





Eds.: Sheobhushan Shukla, Christopher Rollason and Anu Shukla

New Delhi: Sarup, 2010 –

ISBN 978-81-7625-995-8 – hardback, vi + 264 pp.

Order from: Vedams Books,





Vikram Chandra, born in Delhi in 1961, has risen to prominence as one of the most acclaimed of the current generation of practitioners of Indian Writing in English. He is the author of the novels Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995) and Sacred Games (2006) and the story collection Love and Longing in Bombay (1997). This volume reflects the international range of scholarship on Chandra, through ten critical essays and an interview. Taken together, the contributions point up plurality as a vital feature of a body of fiction that reflects both the innate heterogeneity of Indian culture and the complexities of postcoloniality and globalisation, while refusing all monolithic belief-systems and constantly interweaving a multiplicity of narrative voices.

Vikram Chandra’s website is at:

For this volume, I have co-written the introduction and contributed two chapters. I have also prepared the bibliography.




  1. Editors’ Introduction 1-11
  2. Silvia Albertazzi, “To tell a story is to affirm life”: Death and Storytelling in Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain 12-31
  3. Andrew Teverson, Leaving the Past Behind, Letting the Future Alone: Vikram Chandra’s Uses of History in Red Earth and Pouring Rain 32-53
  4. Christopher Rollason, The Tale-teller and the Text: Storytelling in Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain and Love and Longing in Bombay 54-78
  5. Christopher Rollason, On the Spanish Translation of Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay: Problems and Strategies of Translating a Transcultural Text  79-104
  6. Cielo Festino, A Story from Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay: “Kama” – Detecting in Bombay 105-113
  7. Geetha Ganapathy-Doré, Supermodernity’s Meganarratives: A Comparative Study of Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games, Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram and Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City 114-130
  8. Dora Sales Salvador, “Only Life Itself”: Noir Fiction and Beyond in Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games 131-147
  9. Adalinda Gasparini, Farewell, Father Œdipus: Freedom and Uncertainty in Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games 148-181
  10. Sheobhushan Shukla, The Other as the Subject in Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games 182-197
  11. Anu Shukla, Uses and Abuses of Indian English in Sacred Games 198-211
  12. Antonia Navarro-Tejero, A Conversation with Vikram Chandra 212-239

Contributors 240-245

Bibliography 246-257

Index 258-264



Note 1: Chapter 5 (my article on the Spanish translation of Chandra’s second book) was originally given as a paper at the 2004 conference in Lisbon of the European Society for Translation Studies. For more details, see entry on this blog, 27 September 2005.


Note 2, added 21 November 2010: I presented this book at the 34th conference of AEDEAN, the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies, held in Almería, Spain, from 11 to 13 November 2010 – see entry on this blog, 20 November 2010.

Note 3, added 13 February 2013: This book can be found in the library of the South Asian Institute of the University of Heidelberg, Germany – It is also in Cambridge University Library:|cambrdgedb|5033228

and the library of Trinity College, Cambridge; and the library of the University of Paris III ( Sorbonne Nouvelle):


En el último número de la publicación en línea INFO LITERATA (Barcelona), No 28, mayo de 2010 – – aparece, bajo el título ‘Más de 600 millones de voces’, una muy llamativa entrevista con Ana García-Arroyo, especialista española en temas de la India y autora de, entre otras obras, Historia de las mujeres de la India (Barcelona: Laertes, 2009 – véase entrada en esta bitácora, 19 de enero de 2010).


Reproducimos a continuación parte de la introducción a la entrevista, y un breve extracto:


‘Ana García-Arroyo nace en San Sebastián, vive en Barcelona y ama la India. Especializada en Culturas postcoloniales, es estudiosa de esta civilización a lo largo de veinte años de trabajo y una gran cantidad de viajes que le han permitido vivir esa vida muy de cerca. Es también profesora de Literatura Inglesa en la Universidad Rovira i Virgili, traductora de obras indias inéditas en España y escritora de ficción.’  




Q. Oriente y Occidente ¿Cómo ve Ana García-Arroyo el futuro de esas líneas divisorias?

R. No existe Oriente y Occidente tal cual. Estos son muros que la mente humana se empeña o le interesa construir. Yo me dedico a crear puentes. No muros. Puentes que nos acerquen unos a otros, en mi caso a través de la literatura, bien sea ensayística, de ficción o poética.’


** Nota añadida el 14-IX-2010:


En THE STATESMAN (Kolkata), 12-IX-2010, se puede encontrar otra entrevista con

Ana García-Arroyo, esta vez en inglés: "Welcome winds of academic change" –


MANJU KAPUR’S “HOME”: now in Marathi translation

Manju Kapur’s third novel, Home (2006), has now appeared in Marathi translation (translator: Sunanda Amrapurkar; publisher: Mehta, 2009):


This novel has earlier appeared in Malayalam translation. Kapur’s first novel, Difficult Daughters, is also available in Marathi. I believe such ‘internal’ translations of Indian Writing in English into Indian languages are very much to be welcomed.


As a long-standing Bob Dylan analyst, I usually take a textual, not a biographical line over his work and his songs, and it therefore did not follow that, on hearing of its publication, I was necessarily going to rush out and buy and read “A Freewheelin’ Time”, the memoir by Dylan’s early-60s partner, the Italian-American graphic artist Suze Rotolo (b. 1943) (London: Aurum Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84513-443-3), known to all Dylan fans as the woman in the mid-length green coat on the cover of the album ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’. Nonetheless, having now read it, I am very glad I did. From the Dylan viewpoint, it is an invaluable complement to Bob’s own ‘Chronicles Volume One’ as an account of the singer’s formative years in New York; and in its own right, it is a dense and fascinating study of what it was to be young, gifted and radical in that period.

Suze Rotolo avoids any fashionable trap of debunking or putting down Dylan simply for being male and famous; she charts the waxing and waning of the relationship and narrates how it fell apart under the pressure of his fame and her unwillingness to be the-woman-behind-the-great-man, while also recalling, as if it were yesterday, how ‘Bob and I related to each other intensely’ (215). Notably, she refuses to claim any particular song as being ‘about her’, thus giving a welcome boost to the non-biographical reading of Dylan’s art: ‘His songs say it all. (..) They are fictions that allude to those experiences … I don’t like to claim any Dylan songs as having been written about me, to do so would violate the art he puts out in the world’ (290). Much more subtly, she offers interesting intertextual glosses on the songwriting and the songs, as in the moment when, on shipboard bound for Europe, she regales a fellow voyager with a rendition of an as yet unknown ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ (170); or with illustrations like those showing the title-page of a Penguin selection of Byron inscribed to her by Bob (and signed ‘Lord Byron Dylan’ – 172), or a sheet-music version of ‘Masters of War’ enriched by her own graphics (248).

By no means all of the book is about Dylan or the relationship, and we also learn much about Rotolo as an individual in the flower of youth at a moment when the times really did seem to be a-changing. She offers the reader a first-hand sense of participation in the Greenwich Village bohemia, the civil rights movement and radical off-Broadway theatre. There is even a remarkable episode near the end (and nothing to do with Dylan) when Suze narrates how in 1964 she and a small group of fellow dissidents visited Cuba in defiance of the US government’s travel ban, meeting Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, only to have their passports invalidated on return to the Land of the Free. Whichever way one looks at it, from Dylan’s side or Rotolo’s, this is an absorbing and fascinating narrative of a time of ideals and innocence that now seem long past, of those heady, free-wheelin’ days whose death Dylan himself prophetically foresaw when he wrote, in ‘Bob Dylan’s Dream’, ‘Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat / I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that’.


Note added 1 March 2011: Sadly, I have to add that Suze Rotolo passed away, at the age of 67, on 28 February 2011.