Monday, February 04, 2008

New books received, and old boots polished

Just received: some fabulous new books, including Laurence Senelick's new translation of The Complete Plays of Anton Chekhov, José Saramago's new novel Death At Intervals, the New Poems of Tadeusz Rosewicz, and Ashvaghosha's Handsome Nanda, the latest in the marvellous series of translations of classics by the Clay Sanskrit Library (see the translator Linda Covill's introduction to the book here).

Can't wait to read and write about these, but before that I have a lot of other pieces to put back, including one on David Leavitt's The Indian Clerk, which after a stuffy first couple of hundred pages has opened out into a set of chapters of miraculous beauty over which I have tarried for the longest time. I am in general skeptical of novels that feed off the historical record for both large and small details, as Leavitt's does to a considerable extent, and open the corridors of their fictions off the known pathways of the facts (which seems to muddy the facts as much as the fiction) but perhaps I shall have to rethink my objections for this particular case.

Also, it is winter and festival time again in Bombay, and so time once again to bring out those boots, now a year older but still in good condition. I will be part of a panel discussion on Banned Books at 8 pm on Friday the 8th of February at the Kala Ghoda Festival. My friends Amit Varma and Jai Arjun Singh will also be on this panel, as will the playwright Manjula Padmanabhan.

Lastly, my review of Sudeep Chakravarti's Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country (with Chitrita Banerji's Eating India one of two new Indian works of non-fiction I've enjoyed greatly), appears in the new issue of Pragati.

And two older posts on Clay Sanskrit Library titles: on Dandin's Dasakumaracharita and Kalidasa's Shakuntala.

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