Talk of a blurb fest! Judging by the adulatory blurbs on the backs of Penguin’s recent Big Three—The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das, The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger and Nine Lives by William Dalrymple— there’s a mutual admiration club operating here. Das’s book has been blurbed by Doniger, and Das returned the favour by blurbing Doniger’s book. The American Sanskritist has also blurbed Dalrymple’s new book, and in her own The Hindus, Dalrymple is not only acknowledged as the muse, but even the book is dedicated to him.
“I made these writings sensational because I realised sensation sells,” Kamala Das confesses in a conversation with Suresh Kohli in Closure—Some Poems and a Conversation. She said her autobiography, My Story, was commissioned by a Malayalam publisher in return for settling her hospital bills when she had a heart ailment at 37. She “threw in some fiction,” because “by itself my life was not strong enough for a book.” The English translation was bought by Kohli, then with Sterling. The advance: a pair of diamond earrings! Anticipating a post-death surge in popularity, her publisher, DC Books, is churning out her collected works.
Is literature a performing art? You’d think so from the way litfests have been appended to almost every cultural festival. First, there was the just-concluded Delhi International Arts Festival where there was a Sahitya Akademi-ish show of lesser-known poets. And now the Pushkar Fair is also hosting a one-day litfest.