June 14, 2019
by Neelima

Visual Friday: Diverse Women Writers – Bernardine Evaristo

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By InstaScribe

June 13, 2019
by Neelima

Writing Workshops @ Link Wanderlust

Creative writing workshops can be strenuous for writers. Imagine sitting in a closed room with your work being put out there for display. You could clamp down shut, get nervous or lose your train of thought.

We are told that this is how workshop goes: praise and critique, praise and critique. Throughout, the student who is “up” for workshop sits in silence.

Beth Nguyen thinks that this format has done its time. As she is a writer of Asian descent writing about characters set in South East Asia, she’s had her share of being misunderstood by her fellow Western workshop mates. She uses that experience now that she is the creative writing space. Instead of passing judgments on writing, she invites the writer’s opinions on the piece. By allowing the writers to explain themselves, you give them a voice and more clarity on what they are writing. Workshoppers would do well to consider this essay before they embark on teaching students how to write.
Saint Jerome Writing, c.1605 - Caravaggio

Wikiart: Saint Jerome Writing, c.1605 – Caravaggio


June 12, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It: Matutolypea

Matutolypea is the scientific equivalent of getting up from the wrong side of bed. It’s the grumpy cat syndrome that happens when you wake up. The word hasn’t yet entered mainstream dictionaries but it’s one of those obscure words that has gained some popularity on the internet.

This word doesn’t seem to be very popular on any writer’s list. Managed to locate just one usage:

“Well,” Opal said. “I put the pamphlet up because it felt better than doing nothing. We’ll see.”

I nodded, but perhaps not brightly enough.

“Oh my,” she said. “I thought I cheered you up, but I still see a glum expression. Is this a case of matutolypea?”


Now, now–the English teacher! Surely you know what that means? Or are you having a case of the mubble-fubbles?”

Gillian Roberts, All’s Well That Ends




June 10, 2019
by Neelima

Education and Yes @ BYOB Party in May 2019 (Part 3)

Image result for educated tara westoverMichelle spoke about an acclaimed book called Educated by Tara Westover. The book is a memoir detailing Westover’s Mormon upbringing in Idaho. Her father is a fundamentalist and does not trust schools or anything imposed by the government. Her mother is a local healer. Her brother brutalizes her. It’s not a pretty story. In spite of all this, Westover understands that her family’s ideals do not correspond to her own. She finds solace in education, something that had been denied to her but which she later actively pursued, ending up as a Ph.D. holder from Cambridge. Her story talks about a US that is denied education and is okay with it.

“When I read the book, it hit me how much upbringing counts as it influences the very choices we make,” Michelle said.

“Choices, numberless as grains of sand, had layered and compressed, coalescing into sediment, then into rock, until all was set in stone.”

“I was also inspired to start journaling to make sense of things. Tara doubted herself but it was her journals that showed her that she was not to be blamed. Something was wrong with the world she was made to grow up in. Some more quotes that Michelle read out:

“There’s a world out there, Tara,” he said. “And it will look a lot different once Dad is no longer whispering his view of it in your ear.”

“I could trust myself: That there was something in me, something like what was in the prophets, and that it was not male or female, not old or young; a kind of worth that was inherent and unshakable.”

Watch this conversation between Bill Gates and Tara Westover (recipient of the Gates Scholarship): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7Y6Udf_Nzo.

Image result for year of yes amazonSticking to the non-fiction theme, Shanina from the Netherlands spoke about the books that she liked- Atomic Habits, The Alchemist, The Power of Now and others. The book she wanted to share, however, was none of these. It was a light book she had read a year ago by the inspiring Shonda Rimes, an American television producer, television and film writer, and author best known as creator of the television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal.

Shanina chose to talk about Rhime’s very personal book called Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person.

It’s hard to believe that Shonda Rhimes is an introvert who would say no to everything but that was why she took up the challenge of starting to yes, even when she was scared. She worked hard to pull herself out of her comfort zone.

“I love the way she writes, as though she is talking to me,” Shanina said. “It inspires you to say yes to a lot of things you weren’t brave enough to say yes to before.”

Watch Rhimes’ Ted Talk on saying yes.

More books in Part 4.

June 7, 2019
by Neelima

Visual Friday: Diverse Women Writers – Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi

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June 6, 2019
by Neelima

Checking Channels: Literary Friction with Carrie Plitt and Octavia Bright

Stumbled on to a great podcast called Literary Friction hosted by Carrie Plitt, a literary agent, and her friend Octavia Bright, an academic. This monthly podcast features an author and the show is usually centered on some kind of theme. There are discussion and music to boot. Some interesting writers I saw featured include Karl Ove Knausgaard, Sally Rooney, Guy Gunaratne, Leila Slimani and many others. Conversations typically go up to an hour or so.

Check it out and wise yourself up.

office recording GIF by Podcastdotco

June 5, 2019
by Neelima

That’s the Word for It: Chthonic

When you search for the meaning of the word chthonic, you come across Chthonic, a Taiwanese heavy metal band. However, the word has older roots. Chthonic refers to what lies beneath so there are chthonic deities or figures like Hades and Persephone and chthonic cults. The word also carries psychological, anthropological and geological connotations.

The word has been used quite profusely in literature:

“What else can I do? Once you’ve gone this far you aren’t fit for anything else. Something happens to your mind. You’re overqualified, overspecialized, and everybody knows it. Nobody in any other game would be crazy enough to hire me. I wouldn’t even make a good ditch-digger, I’d start tearing apart the sewer-system, trying to pick-axe and unearth all those chthonic symbols – pipes, valves, cloacal conduits… No, no. I’ll have to be a slave in the paper-mines for all time.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman

“For years they have pursued me. Their persistence has kept me underground … forced me to live in purgatory … laboring beneath the earth like a chthonic monster.”
― Dan Brown, Inferno

June 4, 2019
by Neelima

Readers can’t Digest-Week 233 (29-May to 4-June)

Hillsborough survivors’ words shortlisted for Forward poetry prize

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Hilary Mantel: Publication announced to complete Cromwell trilogy

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Obama telling friends he’s writing own book while Michelle used a ghostwriter

don't try it barack obama GIF

Belfast’s Jan Carson wins EU Prize for Literature 2019

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Indian writer Annie Zaidi wins $100,000 global book prize

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June 3, 2019
by Neelima

Mental Health and Milk Teeth @ BYOB Party in May 2019 (Part 2)

Shruti talked about two books – Everything here is Beautiful by Mira. T. Lee and Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale.

Image result for everything here is beautiful amazonEvery Here is Beautiful is a stunning debut,” Shruti said. The story is about two sisters, Miranda, the older sister, and Lucia who is schizophrenic. In spite of her precarious mental health, Lucia lives a life of no compromise and it is Miranda who tries to help her sister in time of need. The novel, which featured as a Top 10 debut, talks about a variety of issues from love, mental health, marriage to immigration and displacement.

“It seems autobiographical,” Shruti said. “The experiences outlined in the book are so real that it can not be otherwise.” Mira T. Lee is familiar with mental health issues in her family. She’s also invested heavily in research.

“This is one of the better books on mental health, I have been told. The book particularly interested me as the author talks about schizophrenia impacting young mothers. It’s amazing that many of us can wake up in the morning without feeling depressed and be able to spend time with our children with a sense of joy. You just feel blessed,” Shruti said.

Theater is an excellent medium when it comes to educating the public about mental health disorders. For those of you in Bangalore on June 14, you may want to catch a play called Broken Images starring the talent Shabana Azmi, written by Girish Karnad and directed by Alyque Padamsee. The theme of the play centers on schizophrenia.

Image result for milk teeth amazonAnother book Shruti found fabulous was Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale. The story hosts a number of parallel plots. Tenants, landlords and developers each have their own agenda at a time when the landscape of Bombay was changing drastically.  The book does share the theme of real estate in Mumbai with Adiga’s Last Man in Tower but there the similarity ends.

The conversation moved onto the delight of children’s books these days and the beauty of native stories brilliantly translated by writers like A. K. Ramajunan and Arunava Sinha. It was debatable whether the English language could provide the range of experience that native languages were able to.

More books in Part 3.