This one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes...moreThis one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes talking superficially about something can yield insight, like sifting through sand on a beach can yield bits of organic matter.. But that sifting process wasn't worth the jarring unpleasantness of writing style. Which was to my preferred writing style as a childish flipbook is to a well produced gorgeous coffee-table book rich with fascinating content and evocative photographs.
I was uncomfortable a lot of the time, his inner workings for most of his life were marked by the same slippery slope/twisted thinking methodology of...moreI was uncomfortable a lot of the time, his inner workings for most of his life were marked by the same slippery slope/twisted thinking methodology of addiction. Which doesn't do it for me. Was entirely interesting throughout, and I enjoyed it through my discomfort a lot of the time. Will look forward to reading more from him, in which the protagonist doesn't have these particular attributes.(less)
Read this in keeping with my teenager's english class. Fascinating to read, about the lifestyle before intrusion; and then how life changed for these...moreRead this in keeping with my teenager's english class. Fascinating to read, about the lifestyle before intrusion; and then how life changed for these specific people. Interesting specific instance about how missionaries did what they did exactly. Really found it depressing as the missionaries took over, although of course the twins thing was horrible. Every culture has its weaknesses though, the take over of one by another is a negative for me throughout.
Want to re-read now, Chinua Achebe is among those writers mentioned early on by President Obama in his book, 'Dreams From my Father.'(less)
This is a magnificent work of enormous importance, laying bare the multitudes and layers of errors made by all involved in the last 9 years in Afghanistan in particular, and delivering prescriptions for positive change.
‘If we can better understand what has happened before, what has gone wrong, and what needs to go right, as this book attempts to do, then we can better face up to our collective future.’ p. 404 (final sentence).
Rashid does focus throughout on the ‘what went wrong,’ within each period, within each country, within each layer of strategy. This enormous data set should be extremely useful as we here in the US all hopefully move towards a more nuanced, principled, integrity-rich practice of foreign policy.
The more you already know about Afghanistan and Pakistan and the last decade, the more easily you’ll be able to layer in all of the wealth of information contained here. Myself, I was relatively ignorant, and so felt uncomfortably overwhelmed for some periods. But it eased, and I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book. The writing is lively, engaging, fascinating (even breath-taking in parts) and flows into every nook and cranny related to the subject. So the content is wide-ranging and always rewarding of attention.
Highly recommend to everyone but especially all US citizens as - actively or passively - we played a huge role in the birthing and nurturance of the global threat of terrorism facing us today. And simply detaching is - I don’t believe - a valid option, atleast not until the significant accumulation of damage done from our last several decades of involvement is healed. (less)
This collection of short stories is massive and fascinating; succeeding in its goal (in my opinion) of presenting life at the edge of multiple culture...moreThis collection of short stories is massive and fascinating; succeeding in its goal (in my opinion) of presenting life at the edge of multiple cultures as lived by folks of South Asian ethnicity. First, about the name. The word 'wallah' in South Asia means some or all of the following: vendor of, craftsman of, expert in. It is a very common term there, and carries connotations of abundant supply of all that is good. In the introduction the editor, Shyam Selvadurai, describes his journey and struggle of self-identification as he went from Sri Lanka to Canada (moved at 19). He uses the term diaspora over immigrant to include weight to each person's (sometimes secret) history, and also to include the struggles of each person in reshaping their identity in relation to both their old and new home. Those areas are some of the main essential contents of this collection. While these themes are very specific, the truth of them reaches the universal. For instance, in Anita Desai's 'Winterscape,' the space between people who are in intimate relationships is explored with ringing clarity. Anita clearly creates four characters: a man who moved to the West, the white woman he married, and the man's two mothers who remained in India. And the moment captured is his wife's defining as 'other' the man's two moms, in their reaction to snow. He feels bewildered and somewhat hurt by her reaction. In that is contained so much of the human experience: and thinking about ok/not ok; good/ bad fascinates me. Another universal (and particular) aspect of life included in this collection is religious extremism, which is cut wide open in Zulfikar Ghose's 'The Marble Dome,' which explores Pakistani society and is another of my favorites. In editing this collection, Shyam includes aspects of his own being. One of those aspects is that he is gay which - in many South Asian cultures - continues to be outside the definition of normal. I realized when I was reading some of the stories that I was reacting as myself, a straight-but-not-narrow US resident who's been aware and supporting of lgbtq culture for over 20 years; and that the cultures involved in these diasporas were very different. In those contexts, the sub-set of these stories with lgbtq content are ground-breaking, brave and probably difficult for many in the intended audience. Two in particular are especially poignant. The first, by Shyam Selvadurai himself, is called 'Pigs Can't Fly,' and tells the story of gender definitions being imposed on a person who had been happily living outside the norm to that point. His mother, answering the question of 'Why?' would say: "Because the sky is so high and pigs can't fly, that's why." Seems as valid a support for normalcy as anything I've ever come across! The second, Sandip Roy’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’ has lingered on my mind. It is about the reunion of two men who had been lovers, on the return of one from San Francisco to India. And mentions a third man, a mutual friend of these two, who has committed suicide. It shows the three choices available to people outside their culture's norms: escape away, suicide, stay and pretend and be internally dead. That later choice is in place for millions of course, in every community almost, required by a variety of conditions. Brings 'Angels in America' and 'Brokeback Mountain' to mind, which show that the pain and damage of that choice is not restricted to the individual, but is shared by their spouse and others. Other themes in this ambitious collection include cultural differences related to historical and cultural variations. He discusses in the introduction some of these primary divisions: the first wave of movement in the 1830's, when South Asians were brought in to many British colonies (in particular) to replace slaves; the second movement beginning in the mid-1950's, in which people moved to major metropolitan centers of the West. One fascinating tidbit about British motives in encouraging businesses to import South Asian populations: 'The aim was to get people in as guest workers who, even after they acquired citizenship, would continue to function as "passive citizens" as opposed to "active citizens" who participated and represented the nation-state of Britain." That is fascinating to me, but not referenced, and the stories (those few set in England) don't really get into that sort of political question at all. I'd love to learn more about that. Anyway, additional variances among the writers he describes include relationship to South Asia - some were born elsewhere and have never visited, most travel back intermittently, regularly or frequently. Some are 1st generation, others are 2nd, 3rd, even 4th generation. While this anthology is in English, the language is a huge variability, as native vernacular is used in quite a few stories (mainly those by writers of that earlier migration): and for me that was a big challenge. In a longer work incorporating native voice, one gets used to it. In this collection, each time it's a transition to master, and each vernacular is significantly different. Fascinating, but I hadn't been ready for that. I personally found it challenging as well to determine the setting of each story, the time period, and details like that. Comes with the short-story territory; and I am disadvantaged with not having the background to catch the significance of the information that is given much of the time. What it all adds up to is that this collection of short stories both demands and rewards active reading. Prior to reading each story, there is information available about the writer and their context that is of use to contextualize their work; the content then is rich and varied on all these multiple axis. And be warned: Shyam is apparently among those who believe that Indian Diaspora in inextricably linked with India’s extreme poverty: the last story in the collection - 'Chokra', by Numair Choudhury - is a short, brutal instance of that shocking misery. This would be a great book to include for any number of classes on culture, history, identity, population, work, many different topics. I personally would encourage the reader to take your time and read according to what you are seeking and/or slowly, one at a time. Rushing through would only dilute the essence and dull the fine points of this breathtaking collection.(less)
From Wikipedia: Dr. Rahi Masoom Reza, born in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh (India) in a Muslim family, was a famous Urdu shayar. He also won the F...more From Wikipedia: Dr. Rahi Masoom Reza, born in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh (India) in a Muslim family, was a famous Urdu shayar. He also won the Filmfare Best Dialogue Award for the hit film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki in 1979. He also wrote in Hindustani and Hindi language. He was also an eminent lyricist of Bollywood.
He wrote the script for a popular TV serial, Mahabharat. The TV serial was based on the epic, the Mahabharata. The serial became one of the most popular TV serial of north India, and its peak Television Rating was around 86%.
... Another novel, named Topi Shukla also revolves around the similar sad theme of social tension between the two largest social groups of India, the Hindus and the Muslims.(less)
Seems like potentially the perfect antidote to my current conundrum of hard-to-read Great Literature ala my daughter's class, and tedious Mom-sourced...moreSeems like potentially the perfect antidote to my current conundrum of hard-to-read Great Literature ala my daughter's class, and tedious Mom-sourced current novels..
And starts out engagingly interestingly!
I've wanted to get around to this for so long, am very excited! ---- Finished 2/26/10: This book deserves a really excellent review. Unfortunately, my time is overcommitted right now especially, and am going through a transition as well. Plus, I just want to re-read it instead of writing anything about it right now!
So, rather than doing any misc paragraphs right now, I think I'll start something in Word and see if it becomes anything good enough to include.
Until then, I'll just list some of my favorite aspects of this: Multiple points of view Day-to-day life details Intimacy details Self-identity construction insets in which a character's life is explored fully, fascinating lots of political content feels true India
If anyone (in the US) is thinking about 'living simply', this book is a great starting point. Middle-class in India can entail a very, very modest lifestyle by US standards. And a couple times in the book, a character feels bad about the luxury around them. Only, they're talking about a towel, or a mattress. This book is great for really getting a serious glimpse at how others - others who are just as real, just as whole, just as smart, just as good, etc.. etc.. - live with much, much less. My extensive clutter looks very different to me now.(less)
Ahmed Ali From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search
Ahmed Ali (1910 in New Delhi – 14 January 1994 in Karachi) was...more from wikipedia:
Ahmed Ali From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search
Ahmed Ali (1910 in New Delhi – 14 January 1994 in Karachi) was a Pakistani novelist, diplomat and scholar, who was responsible for writing arguably the greatest novel ever written about Delhi. Born in Delhi, India, he was involved in progressive literary movements as a young man. Professor Ahmed Ali was born in Delhi in 1910, and educated at Aligarh and Lucknow universities, standing first-class and first in the order of merit in both B.A. (Honours), 1930 and M.A. English, 1931. He taught at leading Indian universities including Lucknow and Allahabad from 1932–46 and joined the Bengal Senior Educational Service as Professor and Head of the English Department at Presidency College, Calcutta (1944–47). Professor Ahmed Ali was also BBC's Representative and Director in India during 1942–44. from China to Karachi in 1948; becoming Director of Foreign Publicity, Government of Pakistan.(less)
Pratibha Ray is an Indian academic and writer. She was born on 21 January 1943, at Alabol, a remote village in the Balikuda area of Cut...moreFrom Wikipedia:
Pratibha Ray is an Indian academic and writer. She was born on 21 January 1943, at Alabol, a remote village in the Balikuda area of Cuttack district, Orissa state.
She is one of the famous commercially popular fiction writers in contemporary India. She writes novels and short stories in her mother tongue Oriya.Her first novel Barsa Basanta Baishakha, 1974 , proved itself as a best seller for its readability among rural female half literate readers. Later Pratibha developed the tendency to attribute the boldness, the revolt and humanism in her literature to the impact of Vaishnavism[who?:], her family religion, which preaches no caste, no class and also due to the influence of her Gandhian teacher-father, Parashuram Das.
The search for a "social order based on equality, love, peace and integration", continues, since the novelist and short story writer first wielded her pen at the age of nine. When she wrote for a social order based on equality without class, caste, religion or sex discriminations, some of her critics branded her as a communist and some as feminist[verification needed:]. But She says "I am a humanist. Men and women have been created differently for the healthy functioning of society. The specialities women have been endowed with should be nurtured further. As a human being however , woman is equal to man".(less)
His masterpiece, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (ISBN 0-201-15576-1), published in 1951, put him on the short list of great Indian English wri...moreHis masterpiece, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (ISBN 0-201-15576-1), published in 1951, put him on the short list of great Indian English writers. He courted controversy in the newly independent India in the dedication of the book itself which ran thus:
“ To the memory of the British Empire in India,
Which conferred subjecthood upon us, But withheld citizenship. To which yet every one of us threw out the challenge: "Civis Britannicus sum" Because all that was good and living within us Was made, shaped and quickened By the same British rule.”
The dedication, which was actually a mock-imperial rhetoric, infuriated many Indians, particularly the political and bureaucratic establishment. "The wogs took the bait and having read only dedication sent up howls of protest", commented Chaudhuri's friend, the editor, historian and novelist Khushwant Singh. Chaudhuri was hounded out of government service, deprived of his pension, blacklisted as a writer in India and forced to live a life of penury.
Chaudhuri comented later that he had been misunderstood. "The dedication was really a condemnation of the British rulers for not treating us as equals", he wrote in the Granta article. Typically, to demonstrate what exactly he had been trying to say, he drew on a parallel with ancient Rome. The book's dedication, he said "was an imitation of what Cicero said about the conduct of Verres, a Roman proconsul of Sicily who oppressed Sicilian Roman citizens, although in their desperation they cried out: "Civis Romanus Sum".
# Although he was highly critical of the post-independence Congress party establishment, he was more sympathetic to the right-wing Hindu nationalist movement in India. He refused to criticise the destruction of Babri structure: "I say the Muslims do not have the slightest right to complain the desecration of one mosque. From 1000 AD every Hindu temple from Kathiawar to Bihar, from the Himalayas to Vindhyas had been sacked and defiled." # His views on Hindutva, like those of other scholars like V. S. Naipaul and Koenraad Elst although widely disseminated in the Indian media were not widely appreciated. To this day he remains a controversial figure. # He was also deeply distressed by what he saw as the deep hypocrisy in Bengali social life and in particular those that resulted from class and caste distinctions. His historical research revealed to him that rigid Victorian style morality of middle class Bengali women was a socially enforced construct, that had less to do with religion, choice and judgment, but more to do with upbringing, social acceptance and intergenerational transference of values. Being a scholar in the comparative-historical mode, he could see very clearly that the excessive suppression of sexuality in modern India was actually counterproductive and counterintuitive. In this, it could be argued that he was a student of sociology and was following the footsteps of Max Weber, and to a certain extent, the psychology of Sigmund Freud. Yet in another way, he was also a feminist although he rejected dogmatic feminism quite early in his scholarly career.(less)
My daughter's English class' next book assignment. So, early preparation is key! I approach Shakespeare with trepidation. But this is kind of the most...moreMy daughter's English class' next book assignment. So, early preparation is key! I approach Shakespeare with trepidation. But this is kind of the most 'fun' one, carrying as it does so much superstition in the theater world, and having ghosts and witches and whatnot. And this edition looks like it makes it as manageable as possible.
After: on multiple levels: yuck. The three portents were familiar, must have read this in high school too. Noted this time the Christian terminology; and the notes mention that this may have been an aspect of the witch hunts which tore through multiple communities in paroxysms of hate. And there's a derogatory reference to Irish soldiers. Apart from all that, violence and evil within comes out and causes much grief and damage and then is answered. Thinking not to read this many more times hopefully.
It's interesting about how Macbeth wrote this in answer to King James I giving him praise and societal position etc.., and so changed details of what was presented accordingly.
Was fun to unlock the language to an extent though!(less)
Ok, I've fully digested 'A Fine Balance' now, and teeter-tottered back and forth regarding the truth vs. NRI-sourced etc.. issues raised by it accordi...moreOk, I've fully digested 'A Fine Balance' now, and teeter-tottered back and forth regarding the truth vs. NRI-sourced etc.. issues raised by it accordingly. And I'm ready to go back and this time start with his first novel. Perhaps this will lead finally to Midnight's Children even?
Really great. Will try and write review soon..(less)
Blood - Urvashi Butalia (1997): India & Pak, a family torn by the Partition; very moving.
My Father's Raj - Mark Tully (1997); on the English psych...moreBlood - Urvashi Butalia (1997): India & Pak, a family torn by the Partition; very moving.
My Father's Raj - Mark Tully (1997); on the English psyche w.r.t. India over the past century in the family of the writer, also interesting.
Erotic Politicians and Mullahs - Hanif Kureishi (1985): Very full of content, not simply-enough-for-me written, will need to re-read, possibly multiple times. All about Pak, and Pakistanis in England, and England, and England-Pakistan. Does help fill in a bit my huge question-vessel in regard to Pak. More of this writer may well be of interest.
White Lies - Amit Chaudhari (2001); Very distinctly honest about the gently brutal interactions of people with different levels of power, the texture of such a relationship. In the same vein (at my level of familiarity anyway) as Thrity Umrigar's 'Space Between Us' and Rohan Mistry's 'Fine Balance.'
Mumbai - Suketa Mehta (1997): Some of the same content as 'Maximum Ciy', but thought would be petty to skip it since I have it in my hands etc.. Felt more afterward like maybe I'd read more..
6 March, 1989 - Salman Rushdie (1989) - poem about that period. Wow, like it! Maybe his books won't be so impossible for me to go in with.
Kabir Street - R. K. Narayan (1997): Excellent.. the sort of writing I love, a slice of life. I'd known I'd like him already, and have some whole books of his. Can't wait!
Unsteady People - Ian Jack (1989) : Fascinating sociological essay basically, about attitudes of the powerful toward the powerless in India, in brutal honesty. Then a comparison to the same in England - with the conclusion that is the same in England, only there they cover it over with make believe hoo-ha to make themselves feel better. And that in India it's all in the open atleast.
What Bengali Widows Cannot Eat - Chitrita Banerji (1995) - interesting about the writer's mother, and how fervently she wanted to keep to all the ritual laws regarding widows in that region, and her (the writer's) reaction to her mother's response. Need to read more of this writer!
Jihadis - Pankaj Mishra, 2002 - fascinating all about the rise of the Taliban and the situation in Pakistan and all sorts of related aspects.. Is the clearest account I've read from someone who actually sought to understand the Taliban and their rise. Not quite 'sympathetic' maybe, but very close - very useful to read to get a fuller-than-trivial glimpse. Also usefully clear about anti-US anger and its causes.
And actually I did already read the next one: Two Indians on America - Amit Chaudhuri & Ramachandra Guha (2002).
Pariah, narrated by Viramma over ten years to Josiane and Jean-Luc Racine. This is non-fiction, an account of her life as midwife and agricultural worker in Karani, a village near Pondicherry. In this account Viramma the obstacles faced by political organizers who visit; some of the details about her activities as midwife, some information about her children (many of whom have died, who she grieves deeply), and a lot about evil spirits and other entities that her belief system includes. The presence of this piece makes me reconsider the whole book to an extent.. wait - who pulled this together? What might the overall message be? Hmm...
Serendip, by Ian Jack, short and ok.. Still was wary.
The Tutor, Nell Freudenberger - quite long, extensive info about the main character; probably more than the writer actually knew. Liked some things about it, not all of it.
Dervishes, Rory Stewart - excerpt from 'The Places Inbetween' - fascinating about the struggles within Pakistan for what -kind- of Islam is approved and acceptable; vs. what -kind- has been in place since the beginning. Totally changed my attitude about his book, will look forward to reading it now.
Little Durga, Shampa Banerjee - all about the filming of Satyajit Ray's filming of Pather Panchali! She was in it, as a child! Fascinating and awesome.
My Hundredth Year, Nirad C. Chaudhuri - wonderful, all about aspects of his writing, how it was received, written as of his 100th birthday. 'The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian,' 19051 was his first published book.
So, as is clear at this point, this book has a really wide scope of work and subject and format and writing style etc.. I was never one much for compilations, but working my way through this I've become aware that they can serve a huge purpose.
Sounds like a great book. Honestly seems to me like the existence of books like this and the power of communication today and people connecting across...moreSounds like a great book. Honestly seems to me like the existence of books like this and the power of communication today and people connecting across vast distances are powerful reasons to still have hope today. (less)