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Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review : 'Split' by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

Split’ by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan kind of reminded me of my days in school, it did have a nostalgic feel to the whole thing, after all. The book starts off with Noor Khan Rai, a pretty young girl, all of 16.

Noor, who is angry with her mother because she left. And I don’t mean just left, I meant left for good, after a divorce. But she does try keeping in touch with Noor, but it is not exactly welcomed. Now, now before we go ooh, ouch and all the other things maybe I should begin the review. 

So, poor ol’ Noor, who does not want to tell everyone this split story, is off to her college. Here, we are introduced to her four other friends, we also have a little bit about them, but that’s for you guys to see and judge or not. They have classes, parties, cafes and everyone else has boyfriends. But Noor does not have one.

Meanwhile, Noor has to readjust at home, as she has to welcome her grandmother. Her father’s mother has plans to live with the father and his daughter. Noor who is the child of a Hindu father and a Muslim mother thought she would have tough time, getting through their divorce, but she little did she know, she would have an even tougher time, handling her grandmother who was against the match in the first place.

Meanwhile, Noor is literally forced to go to a club, called Teens of Divorce. So, it is at the first meeting of TOD that she meets up with Ishan. Ishan, who too is suffering from the aftermath of his parents’ divorce, and an array of other kids who seem to be in the same boat as her and  now, a part of this group. Ishan offers to drop her home, and she agrees, a little reluctantly. He even takes her number, to keep in touch.

Okay, now that's the background. In between, all the club meetings, her times with her friends, her dates and also her parents, the story begins to take shape. It is a pleasant story, with the pitfalls of being a teenager. Her friends and the fights they get into, her newly made boyfriend, her own struggle with herself, and even her father in the middle, are all a part of this tale. 

Okay, I liked it, probably because of its simplicity, its nostalgic touch and even the idiosyncratic meetings with the grandmother, and the friends. Probably a little memorable and at times a little unpleasant. But, it is up to you, my readers to pick this book up, to occupy your weekend with.

You can Buy the Book, right here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Poet Interview : Amit Radha Krishna Nigam, author of ‘Musings of Desire’ (Part 2)

Read up, the second part of Amit Radha Krishna Nigam's Interview. He is the author of the poetry collection,  'Musings of Desire'. In this, he tells us, which books are coming from him next, also advises newer authors on how tough it is to be published today, also gives out his favourite authors/poets and what he is reading nowadays, Folks...

What book is coming from you, next? When do you see it released?

I am working on completing three books by the end of autumn, this year. ‘A short story collection’, a Hindi poetry collection and a novel.

Who was it that told you that you could become the poet, you are today?

‘Poet’, no one. ‘Writer’, many.

But now my mother believes as any truth that I will.

Any advice to writers/poets that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published in India?

A lot of experimentation with imagery, vocabulary and metaphor in poetry is still needed to be done and we have a lot of potential to explore poetic diction to its fullest. Further, a lot of poetic forms still need to be written upon, rather than just free verse.

Good satirical work is largely limited to Hindi and we hardly see long narrative poems now. So, a lot of opportunity in poetry and writers, who are beginning their work, can make a huge difference.

I would also advise them to write not just to become famous and, worse, for money. You may not achieve it soon or in your lifetime (ask Shelly) and it’s not important even, trust me (but don’t take me seriously if writing is your only job).

Instead, once you are done writing for yourself, and if you are really serious about literature, write for the next generation, even if you are writing lyrical poetry. Think of your work as planting a tree that will be beneficial to people in many ways after you as well.

Amit Radha Krishna Nigam
Publishing in India is still very tough with the traditional option and publishers continue to be sceptic of new works without any endorsement or prior background. And if it’s poetry, the battle to find one seems unending. But these days self-publishing and Indie options are very much helpful to new writers and I feel good about it. And many a time, books coming out from ‘not-so-known’ publishing houses do excellently than those published otherwise.

As much as we are rich in literature, I feel that lately our canvas is increasingly becoming deficient and shallow of good poetry (and so does multi-lingual translations).

Thanks to the Sahitya Akademi and other such institutions, which have put in place some mechanisms by the way of awards that poetry is surviving but as I said above, a lot needs to be done. We are among the best average readers in the world (averaging over 10 hrs a week) but in terms of books achieving international literary recognition, we are still behind.

I have my reasons to believe that contemporary literary standard in both prose and poetry, coming out from new authors, especially in Indian-English, is not testing enough.

Riding the wave of populism has taken a priority and doing so, I am afraid that we are appropriating genres, especially romance and mythology, to an extent that literary dynamism is being compromised (by many mushrooming writers) for a short-term success in fiction. This is not good and we have to think about it.

Rabindranath Tagore
Who are your favourite poets and authors and why?

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Which books are you currently reading?

‘Trying to say Goodbye’ by Adil Jussawalla, ‘Collected Poetry’ of AK Ramanujan and 'An Idealistic View of Life' by Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

What else do you like to do on a daily basis?

Reading, writing and internet occupies pretty much all the rest of my time after office.

You can Read the Review, right here, Read the First Part of the Interview and Buy the Book, here as well.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Poet Interview : Amit Radha Krishna Nigam, author of 'Musings of Desire' (Part 1)

Amit Radha Krishna Nigam

Read up, Interview with poet, Amit Radha Krishna Nigam. The poetry collection, 'Musings of Desire' touched me in different ways. From feeling sad, sympathetic to joyous, to appealing, unhappy, and to funny and delightful, this collection did tend to unearth the vivid nature of the world and emotions. I think I am beginning to describe and write a review, all over again. So, I must stop, and give you his words, which are almost lyrical in themselves, Folks...

How did this book begin? Did you have particular theme in mind when you began this?

Some of the poems in this book are older than those in ‘Pilgrims’, my first book. That is to say, this book virtually began around four years, back. After ‘Pilgrims’ was published in 2014, I was trying to recover emotional grounds but recurrences possess such a quality that they don’t let you go away easily.

‘Musings of Desire’ began while I was trying to deal with much of that left-over business. But only when ‘Pilgrims’ was out, did I have a chance to collect and reclaim all the draft works and notes.

For ‘Musings of Desire’, I did never have a theme in mind for the whole collection, but eventually after working on it, I realized that certain poems can be assembled under different sections that speak of one theme.

What drew you to poetry?

My literary calling and motivation goes back to my school days, fifteen years ago. I was fascinated by poetry’s charm, the art of saying something in such an esoteric way that opens other dimensions to thoughts. More than ‘what to say’, I was drawn towards its unique philosophical enquiry and way of saying something.

Later, I started reading more poems and as a school boy who, on seeing a charming girl desires her friendship, I started following her (poetry) after school and would give her missed calls, often even during my board exams. But poetry was not credulous to me. Back then, it was a one sided affair. I did write poems, hundreds of drafts, but people’s posts on Facebook these days are better than those.

Kahlil Gibran

My poetry took some shape of its own during my graduation when I wrote my first collection, ‘Awake Wonder and Lost’. It too, did not do very well, but the relation had started (to answer now what drew me to it) and that was more than any victory to me. That interest in the ‘art’ that grew was the complete shift for me and poets like Rabindranath Tagore, William Blake and Kahlil Gibran ensured that I don’t go astray ever.

What were your poems about? Did you have any running themes?

In ‘Musings of Desire’, poems feature some of my unrequited emotions from my years in Australia that speak of memory and its intimate relationship with loss and love. Here, I remember cities, streets, beaches, restaurants… as binding to my obligation to remember my good friends before I lose them toward the end of poetry.

Here, poems also observe the ubiquitous temporary-ness of our world and any wisdom that it has to offer. It also includes poems on memories and nostalgia that arise from haunting objects, places, and the whole thought process of recovery and discovery that go with it.

Devotional essays towards the end, reminiscence of the bhakti period and tributes to a few tragedies completes the journey for a reader.

The book has nearly 12 sections and poems each section has running themes. However I had not forced my poems to sit on one theme-chair if they don’t want to. My poems are always free to roam around in the classroom.

Any challenges you had to face while writing this particular book?

I had a huge volume of unpublished drafts and notes that I had to put in some order. A lot of time was consumed to figure out what should be included and what not, so that the book does not look completely off the mood. Finding a poetry publisher was the second, and perhaps even bigger a predicament.

What is the most fulfilling part of writing a book?

It depends on various factors, including your very purpose of writing a book and it’s largely a subjective matter (from author to author). As far as I am concerned, after writing this book I felt a little more relieved, like when you have puked after an emotional indigestion (that you carried for years). Things that make you happy or sad go a little deeper.

There was one more thing equally fulfilling – to have an opportunity to put my family’s name on a book.

You can Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book, here as well.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Review : 'In God's Wishlist' by Pradipta Panda

In God’s Wishlist’ by Pradipta Panda is an odd story. It begins with God speaking to us, through television and then detailing what according to him is the state of the world. He then goes on to describe what he needs to do, for bringing about a change, as he sees it. 

The story begins now.

Firstly, he picks Sourav, a young man, busy at work in his office to handle God’s work. Sourav, who is recently heartbroken, is now spending a lonely, drunken weekend, when as if from nowhere a woman takes form. She tells him that she is a spirit, and she will not exist for the world but only for him. She calls herself, Cinderella and she slowly begins to take over the role of his lover. 

As the story moves on, we are told that Cinderella is working in coordination with God, and soon Sourav is also working with Him. God’s plan is one of beauty and love and he has chosen Sourav. Cinderella is the spirit, who will help the individual put the plan into action. 

Sourav, who moves from one beautiful woman to another, is all set to solve their problems and by that I mean the world’s problems. Starting with his former girlfriends, to a current colleague, on to  politicians, all beautiful international women touched by international events, such as wars, poverty and terrorism.

He also has meetings with God and the spirit. He manages to get some power through his work, which he uses for the good of the world. Including flying around, or helping people to fly around.

What struck me, right at the beginning was that the story was decent in concept. Starting out with an individual, Sourav and actually introducing him to the world’s horrifying events, and asking him to resolve them was probably a good idea. But, unfortunately the entire concept ran into shaky grounds.

I do not understand how he finds so many women, all set for sex in exchange for the good deeds, he does for them. When I began to read it, I was hoping for the best, but unfortunately, that bit about moving from beauty to beauty and solving their problems hardly struck any chords within me.

Also, he wastes a lot of time in describing the spirit and also the beautiful women, and lesser in focusing on the actual events and their solving. Also, I hope he has his book better edited and actually puts his concept into better words.

You could Buy the Book here...