The mark of a good artist is the value they show us in their work, their own work. This is why novels must be written and films can follow. Kamila Shamsie excels with ‘A God In Every Stone’. The novel assumes significance given thetroubled times in modern Pakistan which grapples with identity issues. Kamila reclaims a history of the land in the context of Gandhara art, the connections with Persia and Greece, and colonialism. To me this novel is in the league of Nadeem Aslam and Michael Ondaatje’s works. Just hope when a movie is made no character is reduced to a smaller role like Kip, the Sikh soldier, was in The English Patient.
‘Kamila’s research is impeccable, her knowledge of history and geography is excellent, for almost effortlessly she sweeps the reader into an ancient time, laying out ideas and concepts and moral questions with great finesse.’
Please read …
Tags: A God In Every Stone, Greek, Kamila Shamsie, Pakistan, Persia, Peshawar
Must confess though I am from one minority community I do not know enough about all other minority communities. Yet, I can empathize and understand issues which are universal to such communities. So, when The Hindu asked if I would want to reviews Hasan Suroor’s book, I took up the job.
Here is my review, please read …
Tags: Hasan Suroor, India, Islam, Muslim, The Hindu
Prof. Rajesh Sharma invited me to give the keynote address at the Department of English Seminar at the Punjabi University Patiala. I was nervous. I knew what I wanted to say but I did not know how the talk would be received. To my delight and surprise Punjab welcomed me with open arms.
I emphasized on the need for Punjab – all Punjabis beyond lines of religious, caste and gender divisions – to engage with the decade of 1980s and recount what has happened to us.
Please read the Punjabi coverage in the Tribune here.
Please read the English coverage in the Tribune by scrolling down this page.
Tags: 1980s, Patiala, Punjabi University Patiala, Rajesh Sharma
Novel: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
‘In conflicted lands, everything in a border town is at risk. Everything takes a beating: people, families, friendships, histories, geographies, and most of all identities and trust. Such towns are poisoned webs and one never knows where one will lose one’s mind, respect, or life or all. Fatima brings her angst of being stateless to draw out a richly human story of those who we normally call nonstate actors from shadow lands that sit on national consciences.’
Tags: Fatima Bhutto, Mir Ali, Pakistan, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, Waziristan
The Author TV folks have been kind. They have interviewed me and put up my video on their site. Thank you.
Tags: Author TV
I spoke at The Hindu ‘Lit for Life’ at Siri Fort in Delhi on Feb 8 as part of a panel discussion on the 1984 anti-Sikh violence. As a curtain raiser Swati Daftuar caught me just as I was catching a crowded, noisy vehicle a few days before. This interview is completely spontaneous. Please read, there are some points I raise here on which I would otherwise tread cautiously. Thank you Swati, this is how this should have been done.
“The fundamental issue I have is that, post the ’84 riots, the Sikh narrative has become a narrative of victim-hood. I don’t think Sikhs were ever conceived as victims or needed to portray this all the time. Along with that, the in-fighting within the community post the riots is another concern I have.”
Tags: Amandeep Sandhu, riots, Swati Daftuar, The Hindu Lit for Life
The Hindu Lit for Life was from January 11 to 13. My book Roll of Honour was nominated and my presentation, with other writers’ is in this link. Please see from Minutes 9.45 to 19.45 for my section. Click here …
Tags: Author Presentation, Roll of Honour, The Hindu Lit for Life 2014
The anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984 is often invoked in political discourse but I did not know enough about all the literature that is available on the subject. So, I took my editor’s prompt as a trigger to research the documentation. Here are my findings. I am disappointed by how Punjabi did not really fully respond to the events and am impressed by how Hindi, English, even Assamese, Malayalam and Tamil have responded. Writing this article helped me create my own list, I do hope it serves as a map for your readings.
PS: My thanks to Rajesh Sharma, Daljit Ami, Surjit Singh, Nirupama Dutt, Chaman Lal, Deepinder Kaur, Abhirami Sriram, Kumar Anupam for immense help with information and guidance with this article. I am sorry I could not include everything but I am enriched by your support.
Tags: 1984 anti-Sikh Pogrom, Assamese, english, Hindi, Malayalam, punjabi, Tamil
I have being trying to access Punjab a third time. The earlier two were when I was a kid, born away from Punjab and had heard of it in the legends and histories my parents told me. The second was when I was in Punjab from 1983-90 which has resulted in my book Roll of Honour. The first was a glorious Punjab, the second was a scared and confused Punjab. This third time I am distressed because this Punjab does not fit in with either the Punjab I grew up to like in stories or the Punjab I experienced during the terror of the days of the Punjab Problem.
This Punjab today is deeply divided, in denial, hurtling towards poverty and towards the ills of gender and caste divisions and drugs. Many Sikhs have escaped from Punjab, even believing that justice for the 1984 riots is not possible from the Indian state. The Punjabis who have migrated frown upon the Punjabis who have stayed back, often showing us down in terms of the relative advantages of those foreign counties where they now live as regulated or unregulated citizens. The British link to Operation Bluestar is an instance which prompts us to question these ways in which the Sikh community is divided.
Tags: British files, Margaret Thatcher, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Operation Bluestar, SAS
Ankush Saikia and I had shared the stage at Stein Auditorium in December 2007 at the launch of his and my debut novels. Since then he has moved out of Delhi to Shillong and I have followed suit to Bangalore. They say, in this age, to pursue a career in literature it is important to be in Delhi. That is where the networking happens. But we decided otherwise, hoping to continue writing. If Saikia’s book is any evidence, he has done well by moving out of Delhi and depicting a reality which is true to places of the country which are not defined by how the Delhi-centred politics plays out. He uses a crime thriller to portray the social-economic reality of the North East. A worthy form which goes beyond the non-fiction essays.
Tags: Ankush Saikia, crime, North East, Shillong, The Girl From Nongrim Hills