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Salman Rushdie on Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away on April 17th 2014. The world saw a great outpouring of memory: how his stories, novels, words had touched and transformed the lives of so many. Some he gave the courage to look a the world in a different way. Others learned the art of patience in love. And yet others found the courage to express themselves in new ways. Marquez will forever be lauded for his magic-realism. Salman Rushdie, in his obituary, reminds us that while we remember the magic in magic-realism, we must not forget that there is realism too.

from The Telegraph:

The trouble with the term “magic realism”, el realismo mágico, is that when people say or hear it they are really hearing or saying only half of it, “magic”, without paying attention to the other half, “realism”. But if magic realism were just magic, it wouldn’t matter. It would be mere whimsy – writing in which, because anything can happen, nothing has effect. It’s because the magic in magic realism has deep roots in the real, because it grows out of the real and illuminates it in beautiful and unexpected ways, that it works. Consider this famous passage from One Hundred Years of Solitude:

“As soon as José Arcadio closed the bedroom door the sound of a pistol shot echoed through the house. A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living-room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs… and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack 36 eggs to make bread.

‘Holy Mother of God!’ Úrsula shouted.”

Something utterly fantastic is happening here.

read rest here

Vijay Seshadri 2014 Pulitzer Winner for Poetry

Congratlations Vijay Seshadri!

from the The Times of India:

NEW YORK: India-born poet Vijay Seshadri has won the prestigious 2014 Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category for his collection of poems “3 Sections.”

The 98th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music were announced on Monday by Columbia University here.

Seshadri’s ‘3 Sections’ is a “compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless,” the announcement said. read rest here


All 2014 Pulitzer Winners here.

Desi, South Asians and the Rest of Them: A Talk


Thursday, January 16, 6.30-8.30 pm

Columbia University Graduate Journalism School, Student Lounge Room

2950 Broadway, @ 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY


South Asian Journalists Association, New York Chapter

presents “Desis, South Asians and the Rest of Them”

a talk by Kanak Mani Dixit, senior Nepali journalist

and moderated by Beena Sarwar, senior Pakistani journalist


Kanak Mani  Dixit

Kanak Mani Dixit is a journalist and civil rights activist based in Kathmandu, and editor of the Himal Southasian regional review magazine. He holds degrees in Law (Delhi University), International Relations and Journalism (both from Columbia University). Through the pages of Himal, Dixit has been part of the quest to define the Southasian space and identity. Beyond English- and Nepali-language journalism, he is involved with documentary festivals, spinal injury care, archiving, human rights, public transport and architectural preservation. Dixit is translator of BP Koirala’s Atmabrittanta and writer of stories for children. Having contributed to several Southasian anthologies, he is also author of the political commentaries, Dekheko Muluk (‘The Country I See’) and Peace Politics of Nepal.


Beena Sarwar

Beena Sarwar is a journalist, artist and documentary filmmaker working in the areas of media, gender, peace and human rights issues. She has extensive experience in television and print media in Pakistan and abroad, including editorially with Himal South Asian since its inception. She holds a MA in Television Documentary from Goldsmiths College, University of London and has an undergraduate degree in Studio Art & English Literature (Brown University). She has been a Nieman Fellow, a Research Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance, all three at Harvard University. She is the Jang Group’s Editor, Aman ki Asha, a peace initiative between the Jang Group of Newspapers, Pakistan and The Times of India. She has contributed to several South Asian and Indo-Pak anthologies and compilations. She blogs at Journeys to Democracy Twitter: @beenasarwar

A Dyeing Childhood

Picture a company town recast amidst the industrial north of Maharashtra, somewhere between Lonavala and New Bombay on National Highway 1. Writer Mathangi Krishnamurthy paints a background of homogenous order, strict adherence, and occasional ironies crinkling the placid exterior of an otherwise pleasant childhood. Krishnamurthy’s family and twenty-odd other families comprised one of a small collection of communities, a colony called Rasayani after the Hindi word for chemical (rasayan). Homes, relationships, even leisure were dictated in no small part by the pecking order at the company where everyone was employed, or related to someone employed there. Here, Krishnamurthy reminisces about the ways in which her straitlaced past informs and contradicts her free-form present:

It is more interesting for me to ask as to what are the accoutrements of childhood and how do they make us who we are? How do we narrate ourselves? And finally, lest we forget, what is the moral of the story? Soon, I will no longer be able to call Rasayani my “permanent address” on government forms. My directionality will suffer as will one part of my hybrid and usually directionless identity.

You can read the rest of Krishnamurthy’s engaging narrative as a member of the Bombay Dyeing Colony (West) at 3 Quarks Daily.

Leila Seth and Vikram Seth: Mother to Son.

Leila Seth talks about  her son, Vikram Seth, going from being an upstanding citizen to a criminal.

“Vikram, is now a criminal , an unapprehended felon. This is because , like many millions of other Indians, he is gay; and last month, two judges of the Supreme Court overturned the judgment of two judges of the Delhi High Court that, four years ago, decriminalized homosexuality . Now, once again, if Vikram falls in love with another man, he will be committing a crime punishable by imprisonment for life if he expresses his love physically. The Supreme Court judgment means that he would have to be celibate for the rest of his life – or else leave the country where he was born, to which he belongs, and which he loves more than any other.” read rest here.