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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Paging Pakistan: outtakes from a story about Pakistani writing in English,

In other words, while it’s a truism that strife-ridden times and places produce high-quality art (another Pakistani writer, Azhar Abidi, likens the growth of PWE to developments in Latin American literature, where authors like Fuentes and Llosa wrote about the experience of living under dictatorships), it’s also true that literature is among the first casualties when international relations break down. “After all, far more people get their views from news reports than from novels,” says Shamsie wryly. For now, the best that these writers can do is to go on quietly plying their trade: as Aamer Hussain poetically puts it, “Each of us has his or her own unique way of bearing witness to our times, however small our canvas, whether we use sepia or colour, bold strokes or muted colours.” The best that we readers can do is to engage with their books and use them to supplement what we read in newspapers and hear in speeches made by posturing politicians. Chronicles of our times Jai Arjun Singh

Slightly atypical post, this, probably best seen as a storehouse. I recently did this story for Business Standard Weekend about the interesting developments in Pakistani Writing in English (PWE) – or Pakistani Anglophone Writing (PAW) if you prefer. But even the generous word-length (1600 words) wasn’t enough to fit in all the responses that came in from the writers I had contacted. So here, by way of supplementing the article, are the full texts of their replies. Am using the questions I asked as anchoring devices and putting the authors’ responses beneath them – apologies if this makes it look like a round-table discussion, which it wasn’t!
Paging Pakistan: outtakes from a story about Pakistani writing in English

Fiction's Future: Words, Sentences, Quotes

Poetry has lost the symbolic power needed to address shared values, writes Francesco Stella, having ceded this to other media such as pop music. On "the Semicerchio debate" and the search for a new poetic canon. Francesco Stella

In terms of actual, quantitative remuneration in the world, an MFA gets you diddlysquat. It doesn’t even really open doors. Good work does that. Connections do that. Yes, an MFA can help you develop good work and connections, but what you do with them next is up to you and without those things, an MFA is just three little old meaningless letters. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be harsh. Well, OK, maybe I do mean to be a bit harsh because no one likes a writer with an over-developed sense of entitlement. Writing Advice: The World Doesn’t Give a Rat’s Ass About Your MFA

TS Eliot rejected Bloomsbury group's 'cursed fund' to work in bank By Alison Flood on Books
Letter from Virginia Woolf reveals that the poet and Faber publisher preferred routine of office life to Bloomsbury's offer of a 'fellowship fund' The Bloomsbury group attempted to set up a fund to provide TS Eliot with a private income and allow him to give up his job at Lloyd's, but he preferred to continue working as a bank clerk, according to a new exhibition about the poet which opens later this month.

Rare first world war poetry archives published online By Alison Flood on Books
Previously unpublished poems by the war poet Edmund Blunden have been published on the internet alongside extracts from the writer's private scrapbook Rare poetry manuscripts, letters and diary entries by the war poet Edmund Blunden have been published online by Oxford University as part of its first world war poetry digital archive. The Blunden collection, which was launched today, includes extracts from the writer's private scrapbook which he started after the war as a record of his experiences, letters he sent home while he was on active service, sketches of the trenches, and accounts of dreams. It also includes more than 15 previously unpublished poems by Blunden, a close friend of Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves who was awarded the Military Cross for his "conspicuous gallantry in action" during the battle of the Somme.

Voyage to the world's end By Tim Adams on Books
In her latest novel, the Canadian writer describes an Earth ravaged by an ecological disaster. She's crossing the Atlantic now on the Queen Mary 2 for what's billed as the greenest book tour ever – with songs thrown in Margaret Atwood is currently at sea. She has set sail for the first leg of a book tour to promote her novel The Year of the Flood, an everyday tale of pestilence and pandemic, set in the near future (and required campfire reading for the eco-warriors in south-east London).


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