Word Hungry: Interview with Anu Garg of wordsmith.org

He sends out a simple email every day, A.Word.A.Day, containing a word, its definition and etymology, and an example of its current contextual usage; this to more than a quarter million subscribers in about 170 countries. And he has been doing it since 1994.

The New York Times calls his mails “arguably the most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace.” The Wall Street Journal compares him to Tom Sawyer, who has managed to alter others’ views about fence painting, and points to the numbers who happily join painting his wall with words.

Add the fact that this is an immigrant whose first language is not English, a man who has had no “English connection” till high school. Anu Garg is a man with a mission. This Seattle-settled Master in Computer Science, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, went out west two decades ago like any other techie. But eventually the love of words took over and he left corporate life to work full-time on spreading the joy of words. Wordsmith.org was born of this love, with a mission to spread the magic of words and completes 19 years of service to the “wordaholics” this month. Continue reading “Word Hungry: Interview with Anu Garg of wordsmith.org”

Living with Words : Anees Salim, An Interview

Anees Salim - Author
Anees Salim - Author
Pix Rights : The Hindu

This is the stuff that dreams are made of. A college dropout turns ace advertising professional, and publishes not one but four novels in quick succession – and that too, all four in the span of a single year with publishing houses of reputations that make you sit up and take notice. Anees Salim, newly minted author and Creative Director, FCB Ulka, Kochi, though, is one who shies away from the limelight.

He has made it clear that he’s not available for the traditional tour of cities following the release of a book. ‘No book releases for me’ – Anees has posted on his Facebook page, which has loads of followers thanks to his crisp wit. Anees’ pseudonym Hasina Mansoor had quite the following on Facebook too. She later became the protagonist of the novel Tales From A Vending Machine . In fact, it is in the guise of Hasina Mansoor itself that Anees sent out his first manuscript “as the opening pages of her autobiography” to agents and publishers. The book was picked up by a literary agent and sold to a publisher in no time. Continue reading “Living with Words : Anees Salim, An Interview”

Engaging Literary Sojourn: Tania James

Tania James
Tania James
Pix Credit : Ashish Tagra

Tania James was brought up in Kentucky in the United States and is now a resident of Washington DC. But when this native of Kottayam chose to write fiction, Kerala figured a lot in her work. Following a Harvard degree in filmmaking and a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia, Tanya decided to become an author. Tania’s critically-acclaimed debut novel, Atlas Of Unknowns (2009) from Knopf gathered several honours including being short-listed for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Continue reading “Engaging Literary Sojourn: Tania James”

Echoes of struggles

Pix Courtesy : The Hindu

‘Aboobackerinte Umma Parayunnu,’ a solo act by Rajitha Madhu, delineates the Kayyur incident through the voice of the mother of one of the victims.

It happened almost seven decades ago, and to the new generation, it hardly exists. It is as if the Kayyur incident has been conveniently forgotten by the post-globalisation world as a tale about class struggle. But actor Rajitha Madhu takes a page out of a now quiescent chapter in the history of Kerala and reminds us that “it is easier to forget; it’s remembering that’s difficult.” Continue reading “Echoes of struggles”

Blurring identities

The Lover Inside, an adaption of Harold Pinter’s The Lover, is a comment on the institution of marriage.

The Lover is one of Harold Pinter’s early works and one that well-represents the playwright’s style. In this contemporary one-act play, Pinter observes a regular English household with a pretentious couple. Continue reading “Blurring identities”

Face of compassion

Dayabai
Dayabai
Pic courtesy : The Hindu

‘Ottayal,’ Shiny Jacob Benjamin’s documentary on Daya Bai, is an inspiring account of the life of a social activist from Kerala who has chosen to work for the empowerment of tribals in Madhya Pradesh.

Ottayal‘ or ‘One Woman-Alone,’ an hour-long documentary on Daya Bai, maps the journey of a teenaged novice from Pala who decided to give up the cloistered life in a convent to serve the tribals of Madhya Pradesh. Continue reading “Face of compassion”

Managing narratives

daman singh
daman singh
Pic courtesy : The Hindu

Author and rural development expert Daman Singh tells Suneetha B. in an email interview about her books and her motivation for writing fiction. Daman Singh will be in the city to participate in the Kovalam Literary Festival.

She says she is “actually a part-time writer” and her other occupations are that of “a housekeeper, child-sitter and dog walker.” But bibliophiles know Daman Singh as an author and expert in rural development. She also happens to be Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s daughter. Her academic pedigree is equally impressive with a resume that includes degrees from St. Stephen’s, Delhi, and Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). Continue reading “Managing narratives”

Emerging Voice

sahira thangal
sahira thangal
Pic Credit : Yentha.com

In conversation Saheera Thangal, who has bagged the first Emerging Writer Award, tells Suneetha B that her literary flights are powered by her passion for writing.

“Her poetry is ‘a surprise that has opened a door and stepped out.’ Its intensity makes me laugh and cry at the same time.” The late Kamala Suraiyya wrote this blurb for a debut poetry collection titled Njanenna Ottavara (Me, the Single Line) by Saheera Thangal in 2007. The introduction to this collection was written by none other than poet K. Satchidanandan. Saheera’s Malayalam novel Rabia was also well received for its excellent craft and bold theme – polygamy. Continue reading “Emerging Voice”

For a place called Freedom

Nireeksha's Aanungal Illatha Pennungal

Nireeksha's Aanungal Illatha Pennungal

Nireeksha’s ‘Aanungal Illatha Pennungal’ is an adaption of Shahrnush Parsipur’s novella titled ‘Women without Men.

Aanungal Illatha Pennungal‘ (Women without Men). The title is reminiscent of Hemingway’s work, ‘Men without Women’ and enough to intrigue the audience. Nireeksha, the women’s theatre group who staged this dramatised version of Iranian writer-in-exile Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel of the same name, definitely does not disappoint. The script by E. Rajarajeswari and direction by C.V. Sudhi have conscientiously retained the polyphonic quality of the novel which depicts the destinies of five Iranian women escaping the narrow confines of family and society during the politically charged times of 1953. Continue reading “For a place called Freedom”

On a Roll

Mridula Koshy

Mridula Koshy

Meet Mridula Koshy is one of the finalists for the Vodafone-Crossword Fiction Prize of 2009.

Mridula Koshy is on a roll. This former professional trade union worker-turned-writer’s anthology of tight, layered short fiction, If It Is Sweet, is one of the finalists for the Vodafone-Crossword Fiction Prize of 2009. Continue reading “On a Roll”