Visual Friday: Fantasy Fiction by Four Female Authors

February 2, 2018 by Neelima | 0 comments

 

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February 1, 2018
by Neelima
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Orwell in the Bookshop @ Link Wanderlust

You can never go wrong with George Orwell as your choice of writer. I stumbled upon an essay by him called Bookshop Memories. He speaks about his experience of working in a bookstore, an occupation that most writers would be pleased to have. Now if you work in a bookshop, you would expect bookish types to peruse your stock, but no, this is not usually the case. It seems strangely similar to the kind of people one expects at a lit fest these days and who are anything but.

“First edition snobs were much commoner than lovers of literature, but oriental students haggling over cheap textbooks were commoner still, and vague-minded women looking for birthday presents for their nephews were commonest of all.”

Who are the people who visit the bookstore that Orwell alludes to? He calls some of them pests in good humor- the aunt who wants to buy a book for her nephew, the customer who remembers nothing of the book but the color of its cover, the bookseller who strolls in with useless tattered books and of course the ones who do not pay.

He also talks about the merchandise that he used to sell. Besides books, there were typewriters, stamps and even horoscopes. Reminds you of the merchandise in the few physical bookstores that exist nowadays! Working in a bookshop is a job you need not envy.

“But the real reason why I should not like to be in the book trade for life is that while I was in it I lost my love of books. A bookseller has to tell lies about books, and that gives him a distaste for them; still worse is the fact that he is constantly dusting them and hauling them to and fro. There was a time when I really did love books — loved the sight and smell and feel of them, I mean, at least if they were fifty or more years old…… Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening.”

The Queensland Book Depot

Source: New Old Stock – https://nos.twnsnd.co/image/61504751875

January 30, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 169 (24-Jan to 30-Jan)

1. Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88

2. Czech Republic Inaugurates a Tax-Deductible Book Allowance for Employees

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3. Public libraries reach 225 million digital checkouts in 2017

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4. Canada’s Wattpad Announces $51 Million in Funding

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5. ‘Explosive’ biography of Prince Charles to come out in March 

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January 29, 2018
by Neelima
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Partition and the Woman @ BYOB Party at IISc in January 2017 (Part 1)

We hosted the first BYOB Party of the year with the IISc Poetry & Storytelling club and Ranade Library at the IISc campus. The venue was beautiful — the highlight being a tree where paper letters were hung with string, beneath which readers talked about the books they were reading.

Apurba has attended several of our parties. She discussed the book The Other side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India by Urvashi Butalia, founder of Zubaan Books. The book is considered to be one of the most influential books in South Asian Studies and has won the Oral History Book Association Award in 2001. Partition is a grim subject and though Apurba found the book repetitive, she thinks this is an important book to read, considering how little we choose to know about this massive event in human history. Within two months, 12 million people were displaced and 75000 women were abducted and raped. Butalia was surprised by the statistics that emerged when she did her research. In spite of having first-hand experience of partition in her own family (her uncle lived in Lahore and converted to Islam), she knew little about the details of the events of those chaotic times. When she talked to individuals, she realized that it was the men who voiced their stories; women needed to be prodded much more.

She spoke about several horrific incidents that Butalia has described such as the way a Sikh father killed his daughter with a kripan. The stigma of rape and the consequent loss of purity led fathers and brothers to protect their women by killing them. Even men suffered. Butalia’s uncle had turned to a persona non-grata as far as his family was concerned but even though he lived in Pakistan, his heart lay in India.

“There ought to be more partition stories about Bengal as well,” Apurba rued. She was grateful for learning about state-sponsored training centers and hostels for women in places like Jalandhar and Ambala. “The Jewish people have documented their struggles but I’m afraid we haven’t done a good job. There is a partition museum in Amritsar though.”

A discussion ensued about why these atrocities remain unrecorded. Some believe that people remain insecure and afraid and so do not wish to tackle the subject head on, preferring to brush it all under the carpet. Others feel that no one owed anyone their personal stories as even these stories would not change the way people conducted themselves. Then there is the idea of social tragedy vs personal tragedy. For many people who suffered during the partition and after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, their suffering was their own and they preferred to let those unreal truths remain unspoken as they had the right not to reveal what had happened to them. “In case of the Holocaust, there is a strong sense of good vs evil but in case of the breakup of a country, who is really at fault?” Abhaya asked.

You can read an excerpt of the book here and listen to the author speak about the book on Youtube.

More books in Part 2.

 

January 25, 2018
by Neelima
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Sensitivity Reading @ Link Wanderlust

The best thing about reading is that even if you are inundated with data from all corners of the earth, you will never cease to learn something new. I came across the word sensitivity reader when I was browsing through a couple of reader opportunities. So who is a sensitivity reader? Lila Shapiro talks about this in What the Job of a Sensitivity Reader Is Really Like.

It all started with a little girl in school who was embarrassed by how black characters were portrayed in literature. Dhonielle Clayton is now one of the chief executives of We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit that support writers from marginalized groups. The idea of sensitivity reading helps authors who portray diversity to be more accurate about what they’ve written.

The way she sees it, the job of a sensitivity reader is first and foremost to improve the literary quality of a book by steering the author away from one-dimensional portraits and clichés.

This is especially tricky as a kind of blanket censorship could ensue. The interview in the essay throws light on how authors can really get the plot wrong because of lack of research or plain taking for granted. Sensitivity reading seems to be a good trend that will benefit more societies and encourage a healthy diversity in fiction and non-fiction.

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January 23, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 168 (17-Jan to 23-Jan)

1. Dozens more resistance books lined up for 2018

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2. TS Eliot prize goes to Ocean Vuong’s ‘compellingly assured’ debut collection

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3. Deepak Unnikrishnan bags ‘The Hindu Prize 2017’ for ‘Temporary People’

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4. Female writers dominated 2017’s literary bestsellers, figures show

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5. Ivanka Trump’s Publisher Likely Lost At Least $220,000 On Her 2017 Book

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January 18, 2018
by Neelima
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When a Doctor Writes @ Link Wanderlust

If you haven’t read Siddhartha Mukherjee, it would be a good idea to start. His writing makes the world of medicine and disease and death more accessible. An article by him about his writing day is going viral, I think, as I see this article popping up on many well-meaning feeds. So how does this oncologist write?

An oncologist has his hands tied. He is forever monitoring patients who go through remission and relapse. He is forever dealing with their families and instructing the nurses who provide care. He reads through reams of research and tackles mysteries that postdoctoral researchers unearth. There is no reason for a doctor to write at all; in fact, if he does, he obviously does it in between his packed routine.

‘Why do I write? Or why, for that matter, do some doctors write? Some of us write to bear witness. Some of us tell stories. Zadie Smith once said that the very reason she writes is so that she “might not sleepwalk through my entire life”. On some particularly grim days, I think that I write to induce sleepwalking.’

Mukherjee’s method is meticulous. As you read about his daily ritual, you realize how much he values those two hours he spends on writing, how careful he is about using limited social media and how much he loves cells. Most importantly he is terrifically curious. He must address the why of everything and this is the basis of his writing.

Read about Siddhartha Mukherjee’s writing day here.

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January 16, 2018
by Neelima
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Readers can’t Digest-Week 167 (10-Jan to 16-Jan)

1. Women writers pledge to boycott gender biased books after very male anthology

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2. Bloomsbury signs journalists who broke Weinstein story

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3. “The Whistler” by John Grisham was the Most Popular Library eBook Last Year

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4. Roxane Gay calls out writing group for ‘fatphobic’ treatment of Sarah Hollowell

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5. Facebook tells publishers big change is coming to News Feed

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