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A collaboration over too much coffee.
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21 October, 2006

Kiran Desai Reads from the Booker Prize Winner "The Inheritance of Loss"

To hear Kiran Desai read from her Booker Winning novel "The Inheritance of Loss" click here. Also here is the article by Pankaj Mishra that accompanied the reading in New York Times an excerpt from which appears below:

"This leaves most people in the postcolonial world with only the promise of a shabby modernity — modernity, as Desai puts it, "in its meanest form, brand-new one day, in ruin the next." Not surprisingly, half-educated, uprooted men like Gyan gravitate to the first available political cause in their search for a better way. He joins what sounds like an ethnic nationalist movement largely as an opportunity to vent his rage and frustration. "Old hatreds are endlessly retrievable," Desai reminds us, and they are "purer . . . because the grief of the past was gone. Just the fury remained, distilled, liberating.""

My grouse with diasporic writers is that they tend to denigrate, or, patronize India by writing long passages about the exotic India where Indian live in an antique world full of superstitions, mangoes, pickles, snake- and monkey-charmers (Remember "Hullaballo"?), run down neighbourhoods without actually learning about the hearts and minds of the people who inhabit them. They try to exoticise without really understanding the undercurrents of Indian society. What Desai calls "shabby modernity" is also what is turning out brilliant programming code that runs most of the world today. Thus Jhumpa Labiri's "Namesake" which I am reading now, is full of India though it is set in the US, about customs of a Bengali family, and a lot of visuals that would be a treat for people who say they like India.

Seems Indian Writers in English have a great disadvantage here. They aren't so far away from their country that they can gauge what would appeal to Western audiences, nor do they know how to describe things they see everyday in a language that would make it seem like a setting from a period movie.

Cross posted from my blog.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's too premature to say, but I'm half way through The Inheritance of Loss and can't say I've thougt it Man Booker worthy yet.

24 October, 2006 11:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good article...infomational for sure...looking forward to reading some more posts placed on this topic...will be checking this page again..have saved in favorites and bookmarked...thanks

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22 November, 2006 03:06  

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