Vikram Chandra was born in New
Delhi, the capital city in 1961. His first novel Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995)
was awarded the David Higham Prize for Fiction and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best
First Book. His second novel Love and Longing in Bombay (1997) won the Commonwealth
Writer's Prize for Best Book (Eurasia Region).
This 614 page long novel first published in 1996 was picked by the
Oprah Book Club as the Pick of November 2001.
In the epigraph to A Fine Balance he cites Balzac's Le Pere Goriot:
After you have read the story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt
dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild
exaggeration and flights of fancy. But...this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true.
A Fine Balance has a high body count. There are two deaths by bus crushing,
death by torture of untouchables exercising their voting rights and a student
revolutionary, deaths by stabbing of a beggarmaster and two of his beggars (for their
luxuriant hair), the triple suicide by hanging themselves from a punkah of three
young sisters, and finally the death of a man who has come through but who nevertheless
throws himself under a train. Those who survive sudden death lose their legs, their
testicles, their hair, their homes and everything that makes them human- except their
G.V Desani was born in 1909 in Nairobi, Kenya. He got his
education in England. There, he became a lecturer and broadcaster. His prose poem Hali
(1950) was published with a preface by a E.M. Forster, the author of Passage to India. E.M
Forster had to say this about Hali- "It keeps evoking heights ... where the
highest aspirations reach." But he is known more as the author of All About H.
Hatterr. The Oxford Companion to English Literature calls this book "eccentric
and inventive novel" having inspired even Rushdie and I. Allan Sealy's Trotter-Nama.
All about H. Hatterr was revised and republished in 1972 with an introduction by Anthony
Burgess. It's the only book to be named Book of the Year on republication. At present it's
out of print everywhere.
PRAISE FOR G.V. DESANI'S
ALL ABOUT H. HATTERR
It is a brilliant feat of intellect, and to achieve it he has invented an Indian
English of such energy that reviews by TS Eliot, Edmund Wilson and E.M. Forster
expressed amazement and the British writer Angus Wilson described it as 'a Whole
Language...like the English of Shakespeare.
An excerpt from Family Matters Hinduism has all-accepting nature, agreed? I'm not
talking about fundamentalist, mosque-destroying fanatics, but the real Hinduism that has
nurtured this country for thousand of years, welcoming all creeds and beliefs and dogmas
and theologies, making them feel at home. Sometimes, when they are not looking, it absors
them within itself. Even false gods are accommodated, and turned into true ones, adding a
few more deities to its existing millions."
"The same way, Bombay makes room for everybody. Migrants, businessmen, perverts,
politicians, holy men, gamblers, beggars, wherever they come form, whatever caste or
class, the city welcomes them and turns them to Bombayites. So who am I to say these
belong here and those don't? Janata Party okay, secular good, communal bad, BJP
unacceptable, Congress lesser of evils?
"No it's not up to us. Bombay opens her arms to everyone. What we think of as decay
is really her maturity, and her constancy to her essential complex nature. How dare I
dispute her Zeitgeist? If this is Bombay's Age of Chaos, how can I demand a Golden Age of
Harmony? How can there be rule of law and democarcy. If this is the hour of a million
Yezad nodded, feeling his head would burst into a million pieces under Mr Kapur's wild and
Just then, Husain returned with the sweets, which made Mr Kapur abandon the subject. He
began exmaining the six large packets to make sure it was everything he has oredered.
Yezad remarked that judging by the quantity, the sweets must have cost a lot.
"I don't mind," said Mr Kapur. "It's for a good occasion. If the Shiv Sena
crooks can get thousands from us..
Kartography -Kamila Shamshie
The Vine of Desire -Chitra Banerjee
The Tiger by
the River -Ravi Shankar Etteth
Real Time:Stories and a reminiscence -Amit
Bombay-London-New York -Amitava Kumar
Jhumpa Lahiri (1968- ) is a London-born Indian writer who at
present lives in the US in New York City. She was brought up in a small-town America. Her
first book Interpreter of Maladies which is a collection of nine short stories was
awarded the most prestigious American literary Award, the Pulitzer Prize.
"I would not send a
first story anywhere. I would give myself time to write a number of stories. I started
writing, and then I bought a book on where to send stories. I would send them out, they
all came back, then I would write something else, this went on for years. Sometimes I got
a nice note, and that gives you a little bit of inspiration for the next time you sit down
to write. It's a combination of being attuned to that whole world out there, the editor,
the publisher, blah, blah, blah, but also knowing that really is not the goal. If it
happens, it happens; if it doesn't happen for a long time, that's okay too."