It’s Raining in Maya

Some of the very best fantasy writing often defies, to some extent, the label “fantasy”. Whether through the depth and realism of the world or the subtlety of the more fantastic elements, the piece leaves you wondering exactly how to classify it. This is the problem I am coming up against with reviewing Raam Reddy’s It’s Raining in Maya .

 

‘Maya’, as the blurb will tell you, refers to a ‘fictional Indian town’ where ‘it is easier to get lost than any other place in the world’ – one of Reddy’s light touches of the fantastic that never directly contravene reality but make it seem as though anything is possible. This distinction between perception and truth is created in part because of the symbolism of the tale. It’s Raining describes a town’s transformation from a quintessential peaceful, rural hamlet into an increasingly industrialized and disillusioned social sphere. However, rather than attempting to squeeze this complex metamorphosis into the book’s concise one hundred and sixty pages, Reddy takes us on a much more emotionally involving journey by describing the intellectual development of a young girl – Aditi – and using her increasing awareness to explore the town’s changes. In a way, Aditi is our avatar as we progress through the story, she has spent all her life in Maya yet, being still a young child, the majority of what she knows of the place has been second hand, given in descriptions and history by those who know Maya well, just as we have only been told about the place rather than shown.

 

The beauty of the tale is that as Aditi forms her own evaluations of her surroundings, we too start to develop a feeling for Maya– together with Aditi, we discover the subtle differences between long-ingrained assumptions about the town and its present reality. Admittedly there are times where we draw inferences that Aditi is too young to understand, this is where we begin to encounter one of Reddy’s staples – dramatic irony. By exposing us to Aditi’s innocent thoughts, he alludes to darker events and more harrowing troubles than she can comprehend. In this way, he gives memories such as the younger brother who was born ‘asleep’ the impact that they deserve without resorting to maudlin speeches or shoehorned lectures.

 

As well as Aditi, Reddy introduces us to other members of Maya’s populace. He describes Aditi’s mother and father who are trying to build a life based on his feeble earnings at the paint mixers and her father’s boss- a dark figure with a bloody past that creates some of the best suspense of the tale. We are also acquainted with an old woman who has taken in an orphan wise beyond her years and a madman who only wants to protect the great trees surrounding the town. Finally, we are occasionally treated to scenes with two old men, only labelled one and two, who almost take up Shakespearean roles of uninvolved commentators and chat aimlessly about philosophy, life and Maya’s history – giving some of the most suggestive glimpses into the Mayan attitude. One thing that almost every character in Reddy’s Maya has in common is their wish to escape, to leave the place that no-one leaves. Here too, the writer deftly intermingles the suggestion that some mystic force is holding the citizens in place with the possibility that they are simply immobilized by small-town fear.

As the tale goes on, built carefully out of individual and poetically constructed microstories that could each feasibly stand alone, tension builds with the characters’ struggles for freedom and survival becoming increasingly urgent. Suspense grows in a subtle yet inexorable manner, peaking at a thrilling pivotal moment near the end which promises either escape and salvation or blood, destruction and death. All the while, Aditi watches from the sidelines, despairing in an uncomprehending kind of way over the devastation of her most treasured connections to nature and the, not unrelated, loss of her blissful ignorance (symbolized by her inability to draw the simplistically carefree pictures she had produced at the start of the book). Fortunately, Reddy hits exactly the right tone to make this book a deep yet entertaining read – avoiding the blunt, clumsy and depressing train-crash writing that some might have resorted to in the attempt to communicate his message.

It’s Raining in Maya is a skillful and honest metaphorical insight into the changes in some of India’s smaller towns – expertly creating the feeling of isolation and entrapment that can be widespread in these settlements. It also describes, in a startlingly convincing manner, a young girl’s battle to maintain her spirituality in the light of her growing awareness of the world.

Join us at PageTurners on Sunday at 5.30pm for a presentation of the book, a reading, and the opportunity to meet Raam Reddy himself.

 

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The male-female debate in stories

It is no secret that unequal representations of men and women is a continuously hot topic. In fact, I heard someone recently state that the easiest essays are ‘either on gender or genocide’ and despite its humorous intent I am inclined to agree with the comment. My focus on this topic comes mainly courtesy of a recent article describing how all of the female Disney villains were suave, self-assured, fashionable and generally fairly good role models for a young girl until you come to the fact that they are evil.

Disney is no stranger to the caps-laden rantings of the online intelligentsia about the core principles in their stories and obviously takes these concerns with a pinch of salt. I say this less due to my natural cynicism and more in direct relation to the news that they will be showing a ‘catwalk’ in their parks in which their famous characters will show off designer labels by being projected onto the buildings. In and of itself this is most likely no problem, however the fact that they are modifying these role models to look more like fashion

models seems to suggest a certain disregard for sociological essays criticizing the Disney message. Either that or their PR department have done something to severely anger the powers-that-be and so they have decided, in a bout of amusing creativity, to bury them under complaints letters as punishment.

http://shine.yahoo.com/fashion/minnie-mouse-daisy-duck-whittled-down-barney-8217-172800382.html

However, less well documented are the replies to these sociological outcries. Many have pointed out that while Disney princesses can fit squarely into very specific gender stereotypes in some ways, many of them are based on already-sexist fairy-tales and quite often the ‘strong prince’ that embodies their love interest is all-but-useless until a critical moment and the father figures, rather than being imposing and important, can quite often be hapless, hopeless individuals (think ‘The Sultan’ in Aladdin).

It could be argued that there is a persistent culture of negativity when it comes to much of the interpretation of women in stories and, while I don’t deny there are certain stories that send out terrible messages to young women (Twilight – my boyfriend is gone but he’ll reappear if I keep trying to kill myself!?) it may be that equally negative characteristics are attributed to male characters at different times. The piece article complains that powerful and stylish women are cast as evil, particularly in 101 Dalmatians and The little mermaid and Disney seems to agree: http://goo.gl/xEV0a

However it also bears pointing out that their male lackeys are shown as quite thoroughly dense. You could say that this suggests smart women are dangerous but one thing that can be said about Disney movies – the evildoer is usually outsmarted and usually by their same-sex nemesis. In addition, films such as Mulan create admirably little room for feminist complaint.

Moving away from Disney, it is quite obvious that many of the most famous villains are male – even those that need not be male. Lucifer, Satan, the devil –by whatever name one of the oldest and most widely known evil-doers (if figures about the widespread nature of Christianity and Judaism are to be believed) is almost always depicted as male. This occurs to such an extent that it may obscure an important fact – Lucifer was a fallen angel and therefore, by necessity, gender neutral. He (and I say ‘he’ because that is the most popular pronoun) was neither male nor female. Perhaps it was that women were assumed too meek or unintellectual to set up hell? From experience I know this to be untrue but  things were different when the attitude was formed. It is also possible that this was established for the sake of symmetry for, as some may be screaming at their computer monitor by now, the Christian God is often depicted as male as well.

The feminist philosopher Camile Paglia stated ‘There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper’. By the merit of that statement it would make sense that most evildoers in stories be male – both the most talented writers and the most evil people in real life would have a Y chromosome. However – most people, myself included, would dispute her theory and perhaps refer to it by that dreaded sociological label ‘outdated’. In doing so we might unintentionally hit on a key fact in the ongoing tumult surrounding gender and fiction – no matter how much equality we achieve in the modern day, there has still been many, many years of widely accepted inequality and even now, much of the process of achieving fairness between sexes is politically charged. It is statement making. Before the advent of women’s rights, any inequality had no charge whatsoever and for many writers charge may be exhausting or perhaps even just too much for them to handle – certainly to have a equal depiction of men and women without creating a bland lack of gender-contrast or obscuring the narratives main thrust. It is quite possible that much of what could be interpreted ‘sexist’ literature is simply an inept or otherwise distracted author focusing on a message that while not necessarily opposing women’s rights, may not be related to it.

In addition, it is not necessarily the case that any exposure to these ‘sexist narratives’ is damaging. I would concede that being exposed to only the two-dimensional and offensive attitudes that seemed to make their way even into Disney’s propaganda (below) might warp a blossoming child’s perception of reality, however a certain dose of these things can only be positive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JStrcfHr8AY&feature=youtu.be

Like the famous little girl in this Youtube clip,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CU040Hqbas&feature=youtu.be

we need to be exposed to an attitude in order to find that we disagree with it and the fact that gender equality is such a prominent issue suggests to me that children should be exposed to stories that represent men and women in old fashioned gender roles. Not only those stories, not all of those stories, but some of those stories. Perhaps it will draw outrage and scorn from them (two things that are great catalysts for social change) or it might allow them to enjoy a tale and take a break from the fight for equality. I am a strong supporter of equal rights (or ‘just’ rights as it is more accurately coming to be called) but even I accept that someone who refuses to ever take a break from banging that drum is eventually going to find that people no longer listen. Finally, some of the best stories in the world are borne from a play on an old-fashioned attitude or way of doing things. If you don’t believe me, watch Black Dynamite (18)– a fantastic (and lovingly made) send-up of old blaxploitation films or The Princes’ Bride (12)– which is a fusion between fairytale elements and the self-referential knowledge that the roles espoused in those fairytales are quite ludicrous from a modern-day perspective. Even Jayne Eyre wouldn’t be what it is if it were not a mockery of the popular romantic fiction of the time. If we are to avoid all relics of a less ‘equal’ period, we will be robbing children of the chance to mock it – something that I certainly would be very sad to lose.

On a serious note, if you have not looked at the fashion shoot story I suggest you do so, that: I cannot forgive

http://shine.yahoo.com/fashion/minnie-mouse-daisy-duck-whittled-down-barney-8217-172800382.html

Propaganda film courtesy of brainpickings: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/05/07/reason-and-emotion-disney-1943/

Riley on Marketing via Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CU040Hqbas

Trailers for Black Dynamite and The Princes’ bride can be found on IMDB

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Literature the (late?) communist stronghold

When I refer to literature as ‘communist’ I do not mean to suggest any similarities with current political parties – I mean that, from its birth to the modern day it has been an industry far more free from primarily monetary concerns than others. The big publishing houses and many successful companies may profit hugely from certain releases but to anyone courting the idea of becoming a professional writer I will (with sympathy) repeat the advice that has been passed on as long as there has been a profession: DO NOT GO INTO IT FOR THE MONEY. If you start writing expecting a lucrative career you will, 99 times out of 99.5, be disappointed. This is partially because it is difficult even to get published, partially because writing a book takes far, FAR longer than reading one (completely discounting the necessary editing), partially because it’s all about getting an audience to buy something they really don’t need and partially because everyone who takes the script from your computer-screen to a reader’s hand will need a cut. Admittedly self-publishing has been an option for some time but until recently it’s been a largely ineffective venture (you see, a lot of the time you need those slime balls taking your hard earned book sales money and spending it on, well, selling books).

In the last decade, the operating procedure was fairly similar to the way it had been before. However with the advent of book-incorporative social media & e-readers (yes – I never will stop banging on about them) many of the old rules have been quite thoroughly circumnavigated. Amazon offers a service where you can have your book available to download within days and encourages lower prices by giving the writer a larger cut if they set the retail value at less than a pound (80 rupees). Before buying the work, they can look almost identical to any more conventionally published work, however, as the Victoria Foyt controvercy may have shown (see an earlier post) – self-publishing can eliminate some structures that do have value. In addition, it has lead to a different attitude to writing. Stories have begun to surface of businessmen outselling Steven King in the e-book market because, as they have stated, they deliberately priced their works cheaply, forcing the famed Mr King to prove that his work was twelve times better. This seems an unfortunate attitude and one that, thankfully, will not pay off unless the book is of any real merit – particularly when it is so easy to see others reviews of past works.

Although, there are ways around this too – there are posts abound (and increasingly irate ones at that) which describe ‘review services’ – companies not unlike those hired to boost twitter ratings with fake accounts. These groups, the most famous being “GettingBookReviews.com”, take a certain amount of money for a certain number of positive reviews to be posted about your work – perhaps with enough cash you can bury those five comments which read along the lines of ‘boring and narcissistic – DO NOT BUY’. I am not giving a dire prediction for or description of the literary industry but the growth of these activities suggests a new attitude to writing: one which focusses solely on boosting sales figures without recognising that, one merit of the tooth-and-nail fight to be a successful writer is that it encourages you to be a better writer. This is why I compared literature to communism – a priority, whether you liked it or not, was always to improve your contribution to the community.

Recently, Barton Swaim has written an article complaining about the attitude to academic writing. “Academics don’t write to be read;” he argues “they write to be published.” This might be expanded to encompass my worry that some modern writers don’t write to be read – they write to be bought. The only problem is, the environment seems less and less harsh; not necessarily a bad thing but something that is more condusive to this attitude surviving.

Some might blame this on the ‘fifty shades’ craze that has swept most of the globe – regardless of your opinions on quality, these are books to watch simply because of their huge success. This situation could lead a jaded mind to feel that spending six months crafting the perfect soliloque isn’t worth their time if they can just include graphic descriptions of animalistic acts and sit back to watch the cash roll in. However, this is no new trick – VHS quite famously won out against Beta-max because of prominence in the, shall we say, less child-friendly side of video and Blu-Ray’s recent victory against Xbox 360’s HD was for the same reason. The allure of that kind of entertainment has been successful for many a year and other forms still exist within those mediums- any writer who focusses solely on the sales-boosting power of ‘shady’ scenes has already moved away from the ideal. While it is understandable to take sales figures to heart when you have poured yourself into your latest literary work – we need to accept that sales is just one pigment in the image that makes success and also that our attention span is far too short to see the merit of long-term readership (Moby Dick sold terribly when it was first released, driving Herman Melville to say “I shall die in a gutter).

For the most part, I beleive that we do keep these things in mind. For the most part, I beleive that the average author acts for the love of the craft or to communicate with their reader and is glad to see a rise in sales because it means a. that people appreciate their work and approve of their message and b. that they do not have to cut into their writing time with anything so heinous as another job. For the most part, I beleive that literature is still a communist stronghold, devoid of the warping effect that real-world political application tends to have on these things and geared towards creating something and giving it away. For the most part. Writers are famous for proclaiming the death of literature (if they weren’t melodramatic how could they entertain?) but it seems that in modern writing, as in most arenas, there is a focus on being the next big-money craze. Some would argue that we are at a tipping point (one of many) between the culture of literary communism which focuses on communal contribution and capitalism which seeks the right buttons to push to conquer the market. We shall see, in the end, who will win out – but my bet is on the commies.

For the Victoria Foyt controversy see earlier post
For information on Amazon’s e-publishing service (which is actually quite good aside from the corruption it has been entangled in – it just allows a more capitalistic attitude) : http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-summary-page.html?topic=200260520
For Bartom Swaim on the state of literary writing today: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/smart-writing_650766.html?nopager=1

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Reading 101 Myths

When I describe the book “101 myths & realities @ the office” as ‘manageable’ it is neither meant to be a poor pun nor an underhand slight. That descriptor, along with ‘accessible’ have been so often used that they tend to take pole position in reviews that have little positive to say about the work they are reviewing. Here, that is not the case. Rai’s hard-won advice, along with his level-headed approach to problem solving, presented itself to this inexperienced English-language student without a moment of impenetrability or condescension.

In a series of important yet simply-written sections (given titles such as ‘promotion’ and ‘working relationships’) Utkarsh Rai has taken his extensive experience of the business world and remembered it. Remembered being at the bottom, maintained perspective while near the top and explained the different points of view to us at home. Having read Rai’ detailed yet neutral descriptions of trials and tribulations of working in a hierarchy and his short, easy-to-understand solutions for each, it is easy to see why Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (the CMD of Biocon) has recommended it “to every organization to use as a reference manual”. I read the book in one sitting, immersing myself in Rai’s reasoned approach to failure and success. However, it would be just as useful to come in – perhaps redfaced and fuming upon hearing the difference between your salary and layabout-Johnson’s from the next cubicle – and, once you had cooled off, throw yourself into your most comfortable chair and look up your problem (it is almost guaranteed to be covered). Having read the appropriate section I am willing to predict what my reaction would be. I will be annoyed. Annoyed because the answer presented to me is the answer – plain, simply put and unavoidable. Annoyed that there is no wiggle-room, no scope for misinterpreting Rai to mean “you’re right the world is against you” or “he’s probably related to the boss” or anything other than “this is what you perceive, this is what is happening and this is how to fix it”. Annoyed that I was so furious before and annoyed that I can no longer be that way (because there are few things more pleasurable than a nice bout of indignation). Annoyed that the answer presented to me makes so much damn sense. I will be annoyed that I can no longer be blissfully ignorant of what I actually need to do to remedy my erstwhile ire and then I’ll hopefully set about fixing it.

You may be quite aware that I am in no position to judge the complete effectiveness of such a business-manual. That has been done already – by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Som Mittal and Nandan Nilekani, three business leaders that certainly are in such a position (not to mention Rai’s personal portfolio). However, I can vouch for ‘accessibility’ and ‘manageability’ the two terms I am reclaiming for this review. No longer will they insinuate that something is lacking in content or unambitious – here they will mean clearly presented, unmistakably useful and infuriatingly insightful. So yes, Utkarsh Rai’s book 101 Myths & Realities @ the Office – condensing his twenty-plus years of business experience into 283 pages – is both manageable and accessible

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101 Myths & Realities @ the office

Utkarsh Rai’s twitter account describes him simply as “MNC(IT) India Head, Author, and Globetrotter” – an unassuming introduction to a man who has worked across the globe and has persistently followed a set of instincts that many people sadly lack. Most notably, Rai, having worked for Seimens India and Siemens Germany, predicted the importance of Bangalore and chose to travel back here to work when others were leaving in droves for America. Rai quickly rose to head of operations in India for Infinera and, during his tenure, implemented a number of expansion plans, leading up to them becoming IPO in June 2007. Since then he has become the managing director of a multi-national IT company and received the Institute of Economic Studies’ Udyog Rattan award – a very prestigious economic award conferred once a year to someone who displays ‘excellence’ in their economic and business practices.

‘A wonderful guide to help put your career on fast forward’ – Nandan Nilekani

His description of his new literary work “101 Myths & Realities @ the office” shows no more hubris than his short personal bio: ‘Auguest release of my book “101 Myths and Realities @ the office”. Foreword: Nandan Nilekani. Early Praise: Kiran Mazumdar-shaw & Som Mittal’. However, if the names Kiran Mazumdar-shaw and Som Mittal mean anything to you, you will know that early praise from them, directed at a business management text, is equivalent to the heads of a religion giving public approval to a bible. That is if those heads had built the religion from the ground up (and started in their garage).

This is not Rai’s first literary success. In 2007 he exhibited more breakout insight in penning “Offshoring secrets: Building and Running a successful India Operation” which drew on his extensive personal experience to advise companies on how to manage the overseas extensions of their business and at the time elicited this statement from Vinod Khosla (a founder of SUN microsystems): “I have not come across any other book, wherein a true insider writes about “HOW” to build and administer a successful operation.”

Utkarsh truly ‘owns’ the experience of establishing multiple, successful, operations in India– Gary Rieschel, Founder and Managing Director, Qiming Venture Partners, China

In 2010, Rai branched into office-based fiction with “Life in an office cubicle” an e-book release (which again exhibits Rai’s position as an early-adopter) reviews of which proclaim it to be very relatable work whose “fast pace and smooth writing style kept me thoroughly engrossed”

PageTurners is honored to be hosting the launch of 101 Myths & Realities @ The Office – a book which all history and early reviews suggest is going to be a real hit – come to the store at 6.30 pm  for the book release and a panel featuring not only Utkarsh Rai but also Akila Krishna Kumar (President and country head- SunGuard) Soumitra Sana (Head of technology centre – Nokia) and Bhuvaneswar Naik (Vice President, HR, SAP India)

Copies are the book will be available on sale – who knows? You might even get one signed!

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Change in the writing industry?

It may or may not have come to your attention that Victoria Foyt’s latest literary creation Revealing Eden is the talk of the town. However, while we have recently witnessed the rewards reaped by successfully courting public opinion – Revealing Eden has tasted the other edge of that sword. Having been proclaimed, almost universally, as a naive and integrally racist piece of literature, Revealing Eden seems to have had exactly the opposite effect to that intended by its author. In fact, when short-story magazine Weird Tales published an extract of the book it resulted in many authors refusing to submit any more and may well have been the last straw in the magazine’s increasingly unsuccessful attempt to survive. However, this story has been covered in depth by a number of sources, type it into Google and you’ll see what I mean.

An issue that this controversy does raise (if it can be called such, few are on Foyt’s side) is the issue of the lone writer. Television, film, most factual books and even many online media are often the product of multiple authors, however Novels (and perhaps poetry) remain, stereo-typically, the domain of an isolated individual, typing madly away in a sealed room and producing the work only when it is finished. Admittedly, it’s not the only form of expression that is this way but it’s one of the few that can so easily be collaborated on. With the existence of resources like Google Documents and other real-time file sharing programs, 500 monkeys on 500 computers would certainly stand a better chance than their poor typewriter using ancestors. More importantly, one of those monkeys would be far less likely to finish a novel and self publish it to wide criticism and offense – one of the other monkeys would have spotted where they went wrong. This is technically referred to as crowdsourcing – the principle that you’re more likely to get the right answer based on mass wisdom. Of course there are exceptions to this but this doesn’t mean that prospective novels have to be put up for a vote by a panel (actually, that’s eerily similar to what does happen when an agency is considering taking someone on) but it does mean that it could be a far better idea to have writing teams.

This might seem far too corporate, far too divorced from the creative vision, and it might be. Maybe it’s best to allow the odd Revealing Eden to avoid squeezing out Animal Farm. On the other hand, in a recent debate on the future of the novel in Edinburgh – writers such as China Mieville argued that in this digital age, books could well become unavoidably collaborative – purist writers could find their works being ‘remixed’ by fans and have nothing to do about it. And he did not say that was a bad thing.

He and others also argued for a fixed salary for writers which would certainly mean a paycut for those at the top of the bestsellers list but would also allow many more writers to survive and write full-time. China argued that this would counteract what he called the “philistine thuggery of the market” which couldn’t tell good from bad. Not only would such a system be conducive to some kind of group authorship, he seems to argue that it would prevent ‘bad’ books selling just because their sales have reached critical mass while ‘good’ books are left unknown and on the shelves. Who is to say what counts as ‘bad’ and what counts as ‘good’ outside of sales figures I cannot say (although I must admit, I do think such an independent standard exists) but the fact remains that the digitizing of books is not only going to affect the streetside bookstores – it looks as though it could either facilitate the production of anything and a vicious increase in competition or result in a much more hospitable world, at least for burgeoning authors

You can read about the Revealing Eden criticism here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/21/racism-row-novel-coals-pearls?intcmp=239

And about the Edinburgh conference here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/21/china-mieville-novels-books-anti-piracy

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A new chapter for the PageTurners Blog

His name’s Robin Lord and he’s come to India to work for PageTurners.

That’s a fairly blunt statement but he has to remind himself of it every so often. He’s going to be taking over the posting on this, most likely for the next two months and trying to continue Anindita’s and Joshua’s good work. When not working or reading he seems to spend more time collecting hobbies than working on each individual one – although writing fiction has persisted far longer than any of the others. He hopes to connect with as many people as he can while he is out here and share his love for the many ways we express ourselves

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The Bard Room feat. Monica Mody

The Bard Room this Saturday, starts at 6PM at PageTurners and is bound to be a special one. Featuring award-winning poet Monica Mody in a solo reading. Don’t miss this one!

Monica Mody’s work has been published in journals such as the Boston Review, Wasafiri, apocryphaltext, horse less review, Nether, pyrta, and LIES/ISLE, among others. She has a chapbook out from Wheelchair Party and her first book is forthcoming from 1913 Press in Fall 2012. Monica holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Notre Dame where she was chosen as the Sparks Prize Fellow by Shelley Jackson. In 2007, she won the TFA Award for Creative Writing. She is currently a doctoral candidate in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

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An evening with Anita Nair: Ladies’ Coupe 10th anniversary celebrations

On Monday the 19th, about 70 people braved weekday peak hour traffic to celebrate the 10th anniversary edition release of Anita Nair’s landmark novel Ladies’ Coupe. Ms. Nair read from her book and the audience got to listen to one of the most-debated passages from the novel, spoken in the writer’s voice. Ms. Nair also discussed the novel, its conception and the many intricate nuances of the characters, with a panel of writers consisting of Shinie Antony, Vijay Nair and Suresh Menon. The evening ended with Ms. Nair taking questions from members of the audience, followed by a book signing.

On this strangely calm and happy Monday evening, not many missed the shining new Bangalore metro train thundering past, as if providing a soundtrack to a novel set in a train.

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The Bard Room feat. Aporup Acharya

For those of us who were at PageTurners on Saturday evening, the rain was merely something to grin at victoriously, as we clutched our hot mugs of coffee. For those of you who got caught in the showers, you were missed on what was one of the best Bard Room experiences we had. Come early next time!

It was a small gathering of people and their umbrellas, listening to Aporup Acharya as he read some of his striking memorable poetry. The reading soon turned into an open discussion, with the audience sharing their experiences with verse, and some of their favourite writers. Some read from secret poetry that they had read, taking the opportunity to read in front of a smaller crowd that seemed only too happy to hear them out. We even had a tiny 4-year-old, our youngest member yet!

Get ready for the next Bard Room, a couple of weeks from now. Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the reading.

Photographs courtesy Sahit Anand.

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