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Bibliofile

ICCR trapped in the writers' block, the Katha of Partition and Ruchir's 'jet-engine' waits for welcome skies in the US...

Bibliofile
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
illustration by Jayachandran When Granta magazine began 21 years ago, there were dark predictions about the death of the English novel. In fact, Bill Buford’s essay on the subject is included in the commemorative volume Granta has published for the occasion: Twenty-One: the Best of Granta Magazine, a compilation of one piece from each year of the magazine’s publication. But if the English novel died, its rebirth in India is incontestable. And in a belated celebration of its new avatar, the iccr is hosting its most ambitious venture so far: a writers’ conference in the first week of December that will showcase its international literary talent. For the iccr, it’s a problem of plenty: how to pick 50 out of the hundreds of writers making their mark in literature, both in English and regional languages. And why 50? Because Neemrana Fort, which has been reserved for the three-day retreat, won’t accommodate more. Writers are using all their creative energy in trying to wangle an invitation, and host Himachal Som, iccr chief, is already looking as if he wishes he never had this bright idea.


illustration by Jayachandran What is it about Partition that inspires an unceasing stream of books? First, it was the generation of writers that experienced the trauma, now it’s midnight’s children, who are either translating the old classic Partition fare or writing their own version of it. The latest arrivals are Katha’s Translating Partition edited by Ravikant and Tarun K. Saint, and Joginder Paul’s Sleepwalkers, translated by Sunil Trivedi and Sukrita Paul Kumar. Penguin India also launched an old classic, Azadi, by Chaman Nahal. Says Nahal: "The Partition is a metaphor for the prejudices and hatred created by artificial borders. That’s why it’s a timeless story."


illustration by JayachandranWhat every Indian writer dreams of is an American publisher, whose fat advances are now legendary. But it’s one dream that is eluding Ruchir Joshi who is still struggling to interest publishers in the US to take up his Last Jet-Engine Laugh. Whether it’s because, as Ruchir explains, the novel is so different from the usual Indian novel, or its liberal sprinkling of Bangla and Gujju slang, the US publishers just ain’t biting. One thing’s for sure, though: srikhand will never again taste the same after Ruchir’s "seminal contribution"!

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