Wednesday, June 29, 2011

There's a book in everyone....




These are a few more images from Barcelona. No explanations needed, I guess. That glittering sculpture in a balcony is so eye- catching, I couldn't resist clicking it...

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This appeared in Bombay Times on monday....



Not everybody can be an Amitav Ghosh, but a book does indeed lurk inside each person.Book readings of super celebrity authors can either go horribly wrong, or wonderfully right. Fortunately, Amitav Ghosh managed to pull off a sublime evening when he read from his latest novel ‘River of Smoke’ ( part of the ‘ Ibis’ trilogy). For one, he reads well (Vikram Seth is another author who makes his characters come alive at readings). This is a special skill and not many authors possess it. Mainly because most authors are writers not performers. Given the choice, most would prefer the relative anonymity of letting readers decide whether or not they like the book rather than participating in elaborate road shows where they are reduced to becoming performing fleas. But in today’s tougher, more competitive times it’s not enough for a writer to do his\her job of producing a book. It is obligatory to promote it. It’s relief to his publishers that Amitav wears his talent lightly and goes about the exhausting business of public readings and signings with patience and grace. It says a lot about his professionalism. Not only is Ghosh a top rung writer with a vast global following, but he is also one of the hand picked contemporary writers whose name crops up as a contender for the prestigious Nobel. But unlike some particularly aggressive self- promoters with far less substance, Ghosh remains disarmingly modest and consistently considerate. Since we share the same publisher and publicist, I know how gallantly and charmingly he acknowledges the contributions made by each and every person working behind-the-scenes to make these events a success. Even while responding to tiresome questions from the audience, he does so without once losing either his cool or his shirt. V.S. Naipaul, on the other hand, is notorious for shutting up silly readers with a short and sharp put down. One young girl in Mumbai really asked for it when she raised her hand to enquire in a sing song voice, “Mr. Naipaul… what are your books about? I haven’t read any of them.” He glanced witheringly at her, and with a dismissive wave of his hand announced imperiously, “I refuse to answer such a stupid question. Next!” No, the girl didn’t dig a hole and disappear into it – she giggled.
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I genuinely believe there is a book in every person. Maybe even two or three. Some people choose to write it, most don’t. That’s the only difference. Going by the questions Amitav took last week, it did sound as if there were several potential novelists in the audience, looking for tips from the master. Unlike Naipaul, Amitav listened attentively to each question and replied with sincerity. The terrific thing about the evening was that the crowd was made up of hard core fans of the author – people who knew his work intimately and were genuinely interested in the latest one. This was such a refreshing change from the usual suspects who turn up for launches – any and every launch will do – not knowing a damn thing about the chief guest. These are the professional gate crashers who routinely show up at five star venues and hang around the bar, attacking every passing waiter and pouncing greedily on the canapés. They have never bought a book or a painting in their life…. but does that stop them from turning up to scrounge around shamelessly? Naah. This is not just a Mumbai phenomenon, mind you. I have seen similar types in London, New York, Berlin, Singapore, Hong Kong… the list goes on. My favourite memory of Amitav is watching him swat flies during a brief stopover in Patna, while we were on our way to the annual Bhuvaneshwar Book Fest. He was writing furiously throughout the long flight, and getting really bugged by those aggressive flies . Perhaps they’ll feature in his next book?

14 comments:

Sadiya Merchant said...

hehe wat id really like to kno is if d girl showed up at Mr Amitav's reading and asked d same question too! :o
wud really reallyyyyy like to read a kung fu panda 2 review frm u.
its awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee n d dialogues superb!
pls pls plssss watch it n tel us wat u think! :)

goodluck said...

Amitav is a great soul. Simple and charming. That sincerity shows in his writings as well.

Simran said...

It's always wonderful to stop by your blog :)
And so true;everyone has a book within but few of them open it! And it's always nice to know about such remarkable personalities! :)
Keep sharing and take care

Dreamlike said...

its become a habit now to check your blog at least once (often more)everyday when I sit on the net...its getting addictive

Krunal said...

I was present at the Trident during the book launch and I even got to ask a question, although I was pretty nervous while asking but Amitav immediately relieved me when he began his answer by 'that's a good question', now at least I knew my question wasn't stupid.

goodluck said...

Somebody seems to be fallin in love with.......Wants to meet her again and again, writes letters to her.

And he is saying Buddha hoga tera baap.

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

Writing is an art and reading is an art and if you have both the arts in your hand [and not in the bush] then you have both the worlds.

FrankieGoesToHyderabad said...

Well, it would be nice and convenient if we could divide the book launch attenders into Sensible Serious Ones and Superficial Ones & Hangers On. (We ourselves would be in the first camp of course...) But I think it's a bit less black & white. I go to launches with a mix of motives. I might well be amazed by the author's abilities and just want to tell them how much I admire their ability. But I also want to spend an hour mixing with attractive women with nice hair, and pretending to myself for just a short while that I too am a part of the glamorous world. And best of all, what if I happened to turn round and there, not two feet away, was Ms De, and I might even be able to string together an intelligent-sounding remark... and get a kind reply from her? Would those be bad motives? And anyway, if I wanted to really learn from the author so that I could improve my own writing, the best way would be to study their work. If I went to a launch and asked a 'serious' question of the author I know I would only be doing it for the moment's attention. Anyway... hey look isn't that that famous writer over there? Yes, the one standing next to... pass one of those canapes, would you? And some juice to dip it in...

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D Reddy said...

While you were away, Maria Susairaj got scott free..and Rgv proposes to hire her for his next drama...what do you say?

Dr Padmaja said...

great fan of urs. love reading ur books. agree there's a book in everyone. just started writing a book. not sure how open u can be. not worried about myself but the story involves others. not very familiar with writer's ethics. can u guide me. Padmaja

Mona said...

Great pics! Sixty is new 30 I guess :)

Latha said...

These pictures are good. The beach looks superb as my screen saver. Thanx for sharing.

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