September 26, 2016
by Neelima
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23-word Sentences and Intellectual Property @ BYOB Party in September 2016 (Part 1)

This time the BYOB Party was hosted with Sunny at his office in Bangalore. The spirit of the party was more in lines with autobiography, though we start with a different kind of reading material.

Ralph talked about Philosophy of Intellectual Property by Peter Drahos.  The hard cover version  is available at Amazon. This is a downloadable book and as such Ralph does not recommend downloading books as it is an overly strenuous exercise and should be avoided in light of practical difficulties. The sentences are very long, ’23 word sentences’, as he puts it and one must read slowly if one is to assimilate. The treatise as such is extremely topical and relevant, and the gist of it would be  that as far as copyright goes, Drahos argues for instrumentalism as opposed to proprietorism.

Jaya broke it down for us. The idea of copyright itself is a relatively new idea, maybe a century old. The idea behind copyright, contrary to the belief prevalent right now, was to incentivize creation to enhance the greater good. What has happened now is that proprietorism or ownership is given leverage and the reason that copyright came into being in the first place has been forgotten.

She pointed out about the recent High Court ruling in India that enabled teachers and students to  photocopy textbooks prescribed by an educational institution. Already libraries are doing this, but this ruling is a blow to academic publishers. The conversation meandered to citations, very different from plagiarism, and stayed on plagiarism cited in a First Lady aspirant’s speech and  long passages plagiarized in a book called How Opal Mehta got Kissed. Another aspect of book-related ethics discussed was book packaging and ghost writing.

More on that in Part 2.

September 23, 2016
by InstaScribe
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Visual Friday: The Secret Life of the Editor’s Cat

The Secret Life of the Editor's Cat

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September 22, 2016
by Neelima
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Cultural Appropriation and the Writer @ Link Wanderlust

I came across the transcript of the keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival called Fiction and Identity Politics by Lionel Shriver. What she says is tailor-made for contemporary writers and so I thought I would examine it here.

While I read through her article, I realized how many times writers stopped writing a character simply because of fear that they would not be doing the character justice. There could be many reasons for this—your character could be of a different gender, caste, religion, nationality from your own. Research addresses these hindrances, but there is always the possibility of the writer goofing up completely. Shriver thinks that if a writer is afraid of wearing new hats, she can’t be a writer at all.

“At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, earlier this year, two students, both members of student government, threw a tequila-themed birthday party for a friend. The hosts provided attendees with miniature sombreros, which—the horror— numerous partygoers wore.”

The sombrero is a symbol of cultural stereotyping. But is it really?

“Those who embrace a vast range of “identities” – ethnicities, nationalities, races, sexual and gender categories, classes of economic under-privilege and disability – are now encouraged to be possessive of their experience and to regard other peoples’ attempts to participate in their lives and traditions, either actively or imaginatively, as a form of theft.”

This goes for writers who write about paraplegics, even if they are not paraplegics themselves; writers who write about obesity even if they thin; and writers who write about black people even if they are white and vice versa. Shriver believes that since writing is by nature a ‘disrespectful vocation’, stepping into another’s shoes is an occupational hazard, well worth the risk. After all, a reader appreciates stepping into new worlds and it’s a writer’s job to introduce the reader to the unknown.

September 21, 2016
by InstaScribe
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Quotes Wednesday

Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.

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September 19, 2016
by Neelima
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5 Indian Authors in English You Should Read

We all know our Vikram Seth and Amitav Ghosh, but there are some Indian authors who seem to have escaped the limelight in spite of being great writers. We hunted down a few authors on Worth a Read’s(WaR) recommendations list.

kiran_nagarkarKiran Nagarkar is surprisingly not read to the extent to which he should be. Nagarkar is an Indian novelist, drama and film critic and screenwriter. Plus he is bilingual- he writes in both Marathi and English. He has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, described as the ‘highest tribute Germany can pay to individuals’.

He has also been awarded India’s most prestigious literary award, the Sahitya Akademi Award for the novel Cuckold. This book set in the early sixteenth century in the Rajput kingdom of Mewar is a story about battles, feudalism and love.

A book of his that was featured on WaR recommendations was God’s Little Soldier, a saga sprawling from Mumbai to California. Nagarkar takes fundamentalism by the bones and creates a timely epic that leaves you breathless. Read a detailed review here: http://wortharead.pub/2015/04/01/book-of-the-month-gods-little-soldier-by-kiran-nagarkar/

Nagarkar dabbles in a variety of genres and there seems to be no topic he is unable to address. Take his humor driven Ravan and Eddie and The Extras.

 

Chetan Raj Shrestha is an architect. He lives in Sydney. His debut work of fiction, The King’s Harvest, won the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award 2013.

The King’s Harvest is a beautifully created book and the novellas in the book revolve around Sikkim. One story An Open-and-Shut Case is a thriller. A woman has hacked her husband into forty seven pieces and confesses at the station. It’s a pretty simple case to shut, but there is more to it than meets the eye. The King’s Harvest is a different kind of story about a man who journeys to visit his king to give him a share of his harvest. Shrestha’s writing is magical and literary. Read the review of the book here: http://wortharead.pub/2016/04/11/book-of-the-month-the-kings-harvest-by-chetan-raj-shreshtha/

 

Manu Joseph is becoming a fast favorite in reader circles in India. Former editor of OPEN magazine and columnist for The International New York Times and The Hindustan Times, this Chevening scholar from Kerala raced into the literary scene with his book Serious Men, a witty and comic take on a father-son adventure.

His second novel The Illicit Happiness of Other People is again a look at the father-son relationship. This time a father tries to understand why his son committed suicide. The book deals with many ideas, the thin line between clarity and sanity and the juxtaposition of homor and tragedy, being some of them. Read the exhaustive review here: http://wortharead.pub/2016/08/23/book-of-the-month-the-illicit-happiness-of-other-people-by-manu-joseph/

 

Upamanyu Chatterjee is an Indian Civil Servant from Bengal who weaves in his fiction and essays literary prose that is reminsiscent of authors like Kafka and Camus and a keen observation of present day India. Chatterjee has produced noteable short stories. His best selling work which catapulted him to the hall of fame was English, August, published in 1988.  The book can evoke a variety of upamanyuchatterjeereactions- you could hate the protagonist, a drunk, stoned Westernized individual stuck in rural India or you could pity him. A detailed review here: http://wortharead.pub/2016/02/04/book-of-the-month-english-august-by-upamanyu-chatterjee/

In 2009, he was awarded Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of his ‘exemplary contribution to contemporary literature’. He has also been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for The Mammaries of the Welfare State. His novel Way To Go was shortlisted for The Hindu Best Fiction Award in 2010.

 

Perumal Murugan is a Tamil writer and scholar but some of his works are available in translation. Murugan was in the news last year as he was under attack for the publication of his novel Madhurobhagan, later translated as One Part Woman. An emotional Murugan promised not to wield his pen henceforth. In 2016, the Madras High Court quashed those charges and the writer has decided to write again.

The controversial story centers on the need to have children and how a couple go to great length to fulfill this need.  They find solace in a deity but part of their solace lies in having consensual sex with another partner in order to conceive. The story touches on marriage, social taboos and sexual mores, and though it is set in a distant past, it tells a story still very relevant in India now.

Read the review here: http://wortharead.pub/2016/06/17/book-of-the-month-one-part-woman-by-perumal-murugan/

 

September 16, 2016
by InstaScribe
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Visual Friday: Writing Apps

Writing Apps

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September 15, 2016
by Neelima
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Culture? @ Link Wanderlust

In How Global Entertainment killed Culture, Mario Vargas Llosa deconstructs the idea of culture in times like these. Llosa examines what culture meant in his day and the theories surrounding it. Culture is a fascinating word that is often misused. He examines what a variety of writers and thinkers have to say about the subject and reaches the core of each writer’s argument.

While T.S.Eliot wrote extensively about culture in an essay, George Steiner’s response to his ideas was one of disbelief. If the atrocities of the World War had been ignored, how could Eliot have done justice?

The idea of post-culture was a rude awakening. No amount of humanities could humanize a person.  Llosa also examines ‘mass culture’ emerging as a result of market forces. We see mass culture everywhere: in Hollywood, the internet and even sport. Llosa is not too sure if you can call this a culture at all.

A book that Llosa approves of is Mainstream by the sociologist Frédéric Martel where  mainstream culture is described as manga, pop, rock, rap, gaming, etc . Today culture is more about entertainment and is instantaneous. It has none of the qualities that the word ‘culture’ brings to mind. Read this essay if you want to understand this much misunderstood word and do it justice, and read Llosa’s book Notes on the Death of Culture to get the whole picture.

                                                   What does Culture look like?

September 14, 2016
by InstaScribe
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Quotes Wednesday

To use the past to justify the present is bad enough -- but it's just as bad to use the present to justify the past.

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