Thursday, August 16, 2007

Brunei wants the Nobel

From the Borneo Bulletin

In an article headlined Translation Key To Promoting Local Writers To World, as Rosli Abidin Yahya reports on a meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan between a group of literary figures and the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Dato Major General (Rtd) Hj Awang Mohammad, and a senior government officer, Dato Paduka Hj Mahmud bin Hj Bakyr to express their concern over the future of literature in Brunei Darussalam.

"Translation is very important, as this would ensure that our writers are introduced to the world," they said, adding that the ultimate goal is to see a local writer receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 10 to 20 years" time.

Apart from their proposal for major works of local literary writers to be translated so that their books could be promoted globally, they would like to see 'the development of literature activity centres in all districts is vital in ensuring that literature is promoted to the masses'.

Will they win it before Malaysia?!

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Khushwant Singh doesn't like RK

From Outlook India

KhushwantNaipaul criticised the current boom in Indian writing by saying, "I know of no literature in the history of the world which has been created for foreign readership, foreign publishers, foreign critics."

Now Kushwant Singh has his dig. He says of the three pioneers of Indian writers in English: Mulk Raj Anand was a Marxist propagandist, Raja Rao turned ... to exploiting the mystical and spiritual aspects of India and R.K. Narayan (was) a simple storyteller. "... none of his novels or stories has the ingredients I consider integral to fiction: sex, violence or pithy turns of phrases." (Narayan remains to this day the most widely read Indian.)

Kushwant Singh's top twelve are:

  1. A house for Mr Biswas -- VS Naipaul
  2. Midnight's Children -- Salman Rushdie
  3. A Suitable Boy -- Vikram Seth
  4. Shadow Lines -- Amitabh Ghosh
  5. Cuckold -- Kiran Nagarkar
  6. The God of Small Things -- Arundhati Roy
  7. Interpreter of Maladies -- Jhumpa Lahiri
  8. The Trotter-Nama: A Chronicle -- I Allan Sealy
  9. Chinnery's Hotel -- Jaysinh Birjepatil
  10. The Hero's Walk -- Anita Rau Badami
  11. Filming:a love story -- Tabish Khair
  12. The Assasin's Song -- MG Vassanji

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Indonesia book burning

From the Sydney Morning Herald

At least 30,000 Indonesian school history textbooks of the 1965 coup attempt and slaughter of more than 500,000 alleged communists have been burned in Indonesia since March this year after the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono banned several texts implicating the military in the events.

Publishers, academics and activists are planning a constitutional challenge against the ban.

"We have failed to deal with our past," says Mr Nababan, executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Studies. "We have to find out the truth otherwise we have no capacity to heal the wounds."

After the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, the national school curriculum was revised and the new texts included. The ban on the books, which question claims that the Communist Party was solely responsible for the coup, was imposed recently following pressure from the military, ultra-nationalists and fundamentalist Muslims. A criminal investigation into the books' authors was also ordered.

Franz Magnis-Suseno of the Driyarkara School of Philosophy says, "The book burnings show us (the government) is incapable of dealing with events intellectually."

Tell that to the Malaysian members of parliament.

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