November 21, 2017
by Neelima

Readers can’t Digest-Week 159 (15-Nov to 21-Nov)

1. Amazon to Adapt “Lord of the Rings” as a TV Series

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2. Crazy Maple Studio Introduces Chapters: Interactive Stories

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3. WB Yeats’s signature glasses sell for €10,000 at auction

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4. Jesmyn Ward wins major prize for Sing, Unburied, Sing

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5. ‘Boy’ wins 2017 Children’s Peace Literature Award

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November 16, 2017
by Neelima

World Literature @ Link Wanderlust

What is world literature? It’s a term that’s less than two centuries old and that came out of a conversation between Goethe, the German writer, and his secretary Eckerman.

“Goethe reported that he had been reading Chinese Courtship (1824), a Chinese novel. ‘Really? That must have been rather strange!’ Eckermann exclaimed. ‘No, much less so than one thinks,’ Goethe replied.
A surprised Eckermann ventured that this Chinese novel must be exceptional. Wrong again. The master’s voice was stern: ‘Nothing could be further from the truth. The Chinese have thousands of them, and had them when our ancestors were still living in the trees.’ Then Goethe reached for the term that stunned his secretary: ‘The era of world literature is at hand, and everyone must contribute to accelerating it.’ “

In the essay, Martin Puchner, who is the editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature, talks about how literature globalized. Books followed market forces too. Trade brought in literature from other countries into the western world. On the one hand, there were advocates of a nationalist literature, trends that we are seeing now replicating themselves in non-western countries today and on the other there were people like Goethe who saw merit in reading Sanskrit and Chinese classics.

“For Goethe, world literature represented the bold ideal of a world in which no single language or nation dominated. World literature was the cultural expression of a political order, one in which the world had moved beyond the nationalism and colonialism that were dominating the 19th century.”

Engels and  Marx were inspired by the idea of a world literature and extended their ideas to economics and philosophy.

“By exploiting the world market, the bourgeoisie has made production and consumption a cosmopolitan affair. To the annoyance of its enemies, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. … These industries no longer use local materials but raw materials drawn from the remotest zones, and its products are consumed not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. … In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have commerce in every direction, universal interdependence of nationals. And as in material so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become increasingly impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures there arises a world literature.”

Read this brilliant article – Readers of the World Unite– on how the continuous flux of the forces of nationalism and globalization has shaped World Literature.

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November 14, 2017
by Neelima

Readers can’t Digest-Week 158 (8-Nov to 14-Nov)

1. Macmillan’s Pronoun Self-Publishing Platform Signs Off

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2. Netflix Gets Into The Comic Book Publishing Game With Mark Millar’s ‘The Magic Order’

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3. Tencent’s online publishing arm set to raise $1B in Hong Kong IPO

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4. Harry Potter Coming to the Real World via the Magic of Augmented Reality

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5. Edwidge Danticat Named Winner of Neustadt International Prize

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November 9, 2017
by Neelima

Storytelling @ Link Wanderlust

Historically speaking, storytelling as we know it began with the Epic of Gilgamesh. So it is an old habit continued now by not just the novel but the anecdote as well. Aminatta Forna describes this giving and receiving of stories as a symbiotic process where either side benefits from the telling. This is why reading fiction can change behavior as well; the therapeutic value of storytelling or reading cannot be underestimated. The author reminds us that it is not the commercial novel that displays these properties but literary fiction that can better an individual. However, fiction also opens holes in society. Although the author who is from Sierra Leone had read about racism, she did not recognize it for what it was until she lived in the west. The obsession with darkness as evil had infiltrated literature and graphic novels.

Did I ever think the portrayals I read of Africans and people of color were true? Certainly they didn’t square with my own experience of growing up in West Africa….To see oneself only ever reflected through the eyes of another is to view the self through a distorting lens.”

So storytelling is a huge responsibility as it involves the shaping of perception. This line that Forna quotes from Ben Okri is important: “To poison a nation, poison its stories.”

Forna also talks about how it important it is for a storyteller to seize the narrative for it is the story of overcoming all odds that makes a resilient human being. Many times trauma survivors can be helped by simply helping them to shift the narrative that they have made about themselves. Read this insightful essay Selective Empathy: Stories and the Power of Narrative for more.

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November 7, 2017
by Neelima

Readers can’t Digest-Week 157 (1-Nov to 7-Nov)

1. Manchester named Unesco City of Literature

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2. Sharjah’s Book Fair Opening Stresses Publishing’s ‘Light in the Darkness’

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3. Audible Launches an “All-You-Can-Listen” Romance Service

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4. Joyce Carol Oates, Roxane Gay and more tackle the modern workplace in Xerox anthology

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5.‘Most Beautiful Book’ shortlist revealed

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November 3, 2017
by Neelima

Visual Friday: Stick Lit 3

Cultural appropriation is a concept in sociology that refers to one culture being adopted by another. There is a heated debate about the authenticity of borrowed cultures but a very thin line that separates borrowing from stealing or outright desecrating. In the context of writing, this means that a writer from a certain community should be wary of writing about people from an unrelated community. This is extremely problematic for the writer and can be countered by doing adequate research on the subject or by using the crutch of imagination, which is after all the fulcrum of the novel-writing business.

Some articles about this controversial theme:

What Does ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Actually Mean?

Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?


November 2, 2017
by Neelima

How to Write a Book @ Link Wanderlust

I stumbled upon this interview by the writer Alexander Chee,  author of two critically acclaimed novels, Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night. This hyper-creative author has a different way of going about novel writing that merits some serious attention.

We all know about the virtues of writing a journal but have any of you kept a journal for the book you are writing? A place where you ask your characters hard questions, where you jot down your continuous concerns? Well Chee is one of those writers who still writes the first draft by hand.

“I created a process that a lot of my friends have adopted, where I created a journal that was specifically for the novel that I was working on. So each day I would open it when I started working and I’d read the most recent entry so I could remember where I was. And, if I needed to, I could refer to things in the past. And as the day went on, if I needed to dip into old files, I’d list them. It was a way of leaving a trail for myself about my own thoughts. I’d include any questions I had about the manuscript. I’d vent about scenes that I thought were still disgusting or pathetic or unworthy etc. I’d ask questions about why that was the case. Then the next day I’d try to answer them. Because a lot of the way I’d work was coming up with questions and then trying to answer them.”

If you like where that came from read How to Write a Novel compiled by Lincoln Michel.

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October 31, 2017
by Neelima

Readers can’t Digest-Week 156 (25-October to 31-Oct)

1. American writer Philip Roth’s fiction will now be available in the famed Pléiade in France

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2. In the hunt for reader revenue, publishers give micropayments another look

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3. NaNoWriMo Is Big for Writers—and It Helps Publishers, Too

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4. Linguists digitize 1970s children’s storybooks to help preserve Indigenous languages

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5. Elif Shafak joins Future Library, writing piece to be unveiled in 2114

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