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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Islam in the Writing Process, Taking the novel seriously

Salman Rushdie once commented that ‘Islam’, in contrast to ‘the West’, is not a narrative civilisation. This, in my opinion, is obvious nonsense. Beyond the fact that human beings are narrative animals, whatever civilisation they live in, and that Islamic civilisation cannot be isolated from, for instance, Christian, Hindu or Arab civilisations, the Muslim world has a history of influential narratives which is second to none. These include Sufi tales, chivalric adventures, fantastical travelogues, romances and spiritual biographies written in several major languages. Islam in the Writing Process

Rana Dasgupta did not enjoy the rough and tumble that saw him voted winner of the Guardian's Not the Booker prize. But, as Richard Lea discovers, he is a man who takes the job of writing in earnest The winner of a literary prize is sometimes surprised, often delighted, seldom ever disappointed. But when I finally caught up with the novelist Rana Dasgupta, speaking on a patchy mobile phone as he drove through rural India a couple of weeks after his novel, Solo, had been voted the winner of the Guardian's inaugural Not the Booker prize, he confessed that he found his victory "very depressing".After a month-and-a-half of discussion on the Guardian books blog, Dasgupta was chosen from a shortlist of six by an open vote in an atmosphere which he describes as "incredibly chaotic". Taking the novel seriously


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