Monday, December 12, 2016

BRILLIANT NEW VOICES FROM SOUTH ASIA

Co-publisher Chris Knopf takes over this week’s Cockeyed Pessimist blog with a short and eloquent piece about two novels that first appeared in India, from writers who will appear in 2017—Saikat Majumdar’s Play House, which we’re publishing in April, and Kaushik Barua’s No Direction Rome, due in November, and has already been sold to Blackstone Audiobooks.


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 Comparing a writer’s work with another writer, particularly one highly regarded, is tricky business.  On the one hand, you’re paying a compliment by saying “His prose is rich and evocative, even Faulknerian.”  On the other, you might be saying, “This guy spent too much time reading Faulkner in college, and it shows.”

 We are blessed to be publishing in 2107 works by two authors from India, Play House, by Saikat Majumdar and No Direction Rome, by Kaushik Barua.  Both are entirely original works, and interestingly, very distinctive from each other.  Saikat’s book is lushly composed and sensuous, meaning it provokes all of one's senses – eyes, ears, sight, touch and smell.  With starkly drawn characters, written with careful attention to detail. Yet also paced like a suspense novel, that had me enthralled throughout.  Told from the point of view of a young boy, Saikat expresses the fear and wonder children experience living in the confusing adult world while allowing readers access to the realities beyond a child’s understanding. 

As to associations, I was initially reminded of Justine, the first in Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet.  Though Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, D.H. Lawrence, Joyce, Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez also came to mind.

If Saikat renewed my love for sumptuous prose, Kaushik’s work took me back to 1980’s New York City, and Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City.  The hero of No Direction Rome is also a young man adrift in a teeming metropolis, not knowing what to do with himself, seemingly attached to nothing, yet observing everything.  Where McInerney pulled off a risky second-person narrative, Kaushik delivers a crisp stream of consciousness that moves seamlessly from quip to commentary, to startling profundity.  
            
Though approaching the art of the novel from opposite directions, these books share an abundance of creativity, thoughtfulness, and gimlet-eyed perception.  I also found both to be remarkably mature works, in the mastery of difficult narrative techniques, and in the kind of awareness of the world you’d expect to from, older writers. 

Both originally published in India to wide critical praise, we’re pleased to introduce, Saikat Majumdar and Kaushik Barua to lovers of brilliant literature here in America and beyond. 

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Please share this blog with others and comment directly to myself and Chris below. You can also email Chris your comments directly at ChrisK@mintz-hoke.com 


Next week we’ll be  featuring a lengthy blog by author Tom LeClair entitled: CIVILLY DISOBEDIENT: WHY I’M STANDING VIGIL AT TRUMP TOWER







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