Oscar Hijuelos on Finding Voice

April 2, 2022 8:06 am

This week, I want to talk about Oscar Hijuelos. An amazing writer, Oscar Hijuelos (1951-2013) was born to Cuban immigrant parents in New York. He was also the first Hispanic author to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 1990, he won the Pulitzer for his second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989). The […]

Cyrus Mistry On Life And Death

March 18, 2022 12:11 pm

This week, I would like to talk about a novel that turns a lot of things upside down, so to say. The author, I would like to discuss is Cyrus Mistry. His brother, Rohinton Mistry is the toast of Indian Writing in English but Cyrus Mistry is no less. His play, Doongaji House was many […]

Saul Bellow On Midlife Crisis

March 11, 2022 2:58 pm

I read Saul Bellow for the first time in my life as an MA student when his novel, Humboldt’s Gift was part of the American Literature paper. This was over twenty-five years ago. I took a liking to Saul Bellow almost immediately, devouring his other novels, including Herzog as well as Henderson the Rain King. […]

Three Different Novels About Love

March 4, 2022 1:15 pm

Last week, it was Valentine’s Day and I like to live my life with slowness, living with my circadian rhythms, not bothering about the rush and tumble of a sprawling metropolis. Sometimes, it has led to slowness in professional and other aspects of life. But one lives life in its fulness and its richness. The […]

Our Dystopian Moments

February 11, 2022 9:34 pm

Many years ago, I taught a special paper on Satire to postgraduate students. In that paper, I had also taught a few dystopian novels. ‘Dystopia’ is often defined as a world which is an inversion of a ‘utopia’, an ideal and an idyllic world. Sometimes, truth takes a few turns and novels, which portray dystopian […]

Chinua Achebe On Narrating Culture

February 6, 2022 8:45 am

The celebrated Nigerian novelist, Chinua Achebe, acknowledged as the ‘Father of the modern African novel’, is the flavour this week. As I started discussing a paper on Postcolonial Literature (s) in English with my undergraduate students, Achebe had to be there. Also, his iconic novel, Things Fall Apart, and his essay on Joseph Conrad’s novel, […]

Mahmoud Darwish On Loss And Identity

January 28, 2022 8:39 pm

Last week, as I ended my column with the Jewish, Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, I made a promise that I would write about the greatest Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish. Darwish was regarded as the Palestinian national poet. He authored over two dozen books and his was the voice widely accepted and respected across the Arab […]

Yehuda Amichai On Moving Through Life

January 21, 2022 1:23 pm

Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) was a very important poet of Israel, a modern Jewish poet, a poet who could transcend his time. I wanted to do a series of articles on Jewish writers, and I thought who better than Yehuda Amichai to begin with, a poet, who stood witness to historical events around him. He was […]

Vladimir Nabokov On Art And Life

January 15, 2022 8:52 am

The name ‘Vladimir Nabokov’ evokes all kinds of associations in the minds of people, some not favourable too. However, what most people miss out is that he was one of the greatest stylists of the English language in the twentieth century. In 1988, I had entered BA, I was barely seventeen and I issued Nabokov’s […]

James Joyce On Welcoming Life

January 7, 2022 3:12 pm

Two weeks ago, I had spoken about novels where characters grow through the different experiences that they accumulate in their lives. As ‘novels of growth’ or a bildungsroman, I had specifically spoken about two novels, which I have loved in my life, George Eliot’s Middlemarch and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a […]

Agha Shahid Ali On Love And Memory

December 31, 2021 3:50 pm

My first introduction to the poems of Agha Shahid Ali was in 1995, reading works by different Indian poets in English as I worked for my M.Phil. dissertation on the poetry of AK Ramanujan. I was immediately enamoured of him. There was no way one could not be so. In fact, I found out that […]

George Eliot On Growing Through Life

December 24, 2021 3:41 pm

In a number of novels across world literature does a character grow and learn through one’s life experiences as the novel progresses. Such novels are known as a bildungsroman, a German term which means ‘novel of growth’. There are a lot of notable examples scattered through the realms of literature. Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks is one […]

A Refuge From The Harsh World

December 17, 2021 3:46 pm

A novel that I remember that I have liked ever since I have read is Lost Horizon by the English novelist, James Hilton. The novel was published in 1933. I read it many years ago, the first time over two decades ago and, ever since, I have returned to this novel quite a few times […]

Sickness And Healing

December 11, 2021 1:32 pm

I must seek everyone’s apologies for my absence for the last couple of weeks. This was necessitated by ill health of various kinds. As it was a prolonged phase of ailments, it led to several thoughts around the process of sickness and healing. It seems to me that medicines do play their role in healing. […]

Lineage Or Consistent Effort?

November 6, 2021 11:08 am

I have observed this a lot in India, and I think, this is largely prevalent in South Asia, where people of different ethnicities either claim superiority through caste or through ‘royal blood line’. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) was a nineteenth century biologist, friar, and a lot more. His work with breeding and cultivating pea plants led […]

The Dystopian Moments

October 30, 2021 8:03 am

For the last decade or so, I have felt as if I am living through a dystopia. I have titled this column ‘The Dystopian Moments’ and not called it ‘Our Dystopias’. So, I want to make it very clear that my focus is not on our current political or social situation in the country. My […]

Parsi Social Reformers And Litterateurs

October 26, 2021 3:12 pm

Last week, I spoke about “The Parsi Spirit”, essentially focusing on the entrepreneurial spirit of the Parsis as also touching upon Zoroastrian religious ethos. A Gujarati friend, professor, and author, living in Spain, Kandarp Mehta told me that he expected more about Parsi litterateurs, ‘coming from your background’. Reasonably valid point.  If you want to […]

The Parsi Spirit

October 15, 2021 6:30 pm

This week, the news about the Air India sale to the Tatas was all over the town. Also, in our pandemic days, Adar Poonawalla’s Serum Institute of India has received good as well as bad press. There have also been some Marxist voices about the Air India sale being a “corporate sell-out”. In that context, […]

Nobel Thoughts

October 9, 2021 8:33 pm

This is the week for the Nobel Prizes. The 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature has been rightfully and aptly awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Tanzanian novelist. His native language is Swahili but he writes in English and lives in England. The Nobel citation for Abdulrazak Gurnah reads: “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the […]

Saint Jerome, Jalaluddin Rumi and Related Things

October 1, 2021 9:06 pm

Two events passed me by this week. Both happen every year. September 30th is celebrated as International Translation Day, the feast of Saint Jerome, the translator of the Holy Bible, considered the patron saint of translators. You could read more about Saint Jerome on the Encyclopedia Brittanica website. Translation, often, seems like an invisible activity. […]