Saturday, October 24, 2020

Consider the zombie

Consider the zombie. What separates it from a human? Both walk, both get hungry, both are capable of violence, both can – in different ways – reproduce, and anyone who has ever seen a zombie apocalypse movie knows that the undead can be clever in pursuit of their goals. What a zombie is not, is self-interrogative. If it was, we’d think it human.

Over the last few years, there has been some literary debate about the death of the novel. I laughed at it before but now I wonder if our fear is not so much that the novel might be dead as that it may be undead. Many more novels get published than at any time before, but how many of them have a throbbing pulse?

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A new review for Unbound

We do the work of creation in the hope that it achieves something in our communities. Something gentle, or fierce, or resplendent. Something that makes the world tilt, even if it is just at the molecular level. 

Today, I was feeling rather gratified at finding a review of Unbound: 2,000 Years of Indian Women's Writing. The book was published about five years ago and I wasn't expecting anyone to review it now. However, a reader has offered a very kind and personal response to the book. 

Aparna Ravikumar says: "This anthology’s charm lies in the way it has been put together. I could easily slip into the pages with an “Aha” moment here and an epiphany there. And slip out just as easily to have a meaningful discussion with the other mothers while waiting for our daughters at dance rehearsals. In the waiting room during my Dad’s surgery while reading the excerpt from Bama’s Chilli Powder with my mother, the lady next to her managed a chuckle through her snot-crusted, teary face. That’s when my mother realised that she was reading it aloud."

This is what one hopes to achieve when one puts together an anthology like Unbound: to convey to the reader the harsh beauty, the comedy and the farce, the sadness of this world, to deliver into their hands the words that have help us survive. Our foremothers, us, hopefully future generations too. Editing this anthology was hard work but I found my own cultural history and spiritual strength through all the reading I did while researching it. Seeing this review reminds me, once again, that those three and a half years was time well spent. 

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