Jaipur Literature Festival 2015 – The Show Begins!

JLF 2015

The stalwarts of Indian English poetry are here to deliver the keynote address. The names include Ashok Vajpeyi, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.  Leading brands, arts organisations and educational institutions have once again supported the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival as sponsors for the 2015 edition, enabling the world-leading literary festival to remain free and open to all. Among the new partners, who have venturd in are Amazon.in, which is here as the Festival’s Official Book Partner. The second new entrant is Rajnigandha that will support the Front Lawns as venue sponsorer.

ZEE is not the only returning partner for 2015, all four of the Festival’s venue sponsors from 2014 and before have again committed to supporting the annual event, pointing to the valuable brand association and visibility provided by partnering with the Festival. Google will be venue sponsor for the Mughal Tent for the fourth year in a row, British Airways, Harvard University’s Mahindra Humanities Centre and Ford will all return for the second year as venue partners for the Baithak, Durbar Hall and Samvad respectively.

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival beings with a bang today, that is, 21 January and will continue till 25 January at Hotel Diggi Palace in Jaipur. Confirmed speakers include Nobel laureate V.S.Naipaul, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Vijay Seshadri and Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton. The Festival is completely free and open to all.

Now that the festival has entered its eighth edition this time, the Royal Diggi Palace continues to be prestigious venue. Did you ever spare a thought as to wherein lies the charm with this palatial host?  The Royal Indian Palace has been hosting JLF since its inception in 2006, and every year greets visitors with its lush green front lawns, steaming morning chai and the pleasant, fresh morning breeze. With deep cultural roots and a history so royal and full of grandeur – the Diggi Palace, makes it the perfect destination to host the most recognized literary minds from across the world.

One of the most anticipated events has charm enough and offers food for thought for all…




Samanvay: Indian Languages Festival 2014

samanvay 2014This time the special emotional touch is that it is a tribute to UR Ananthamurthy, Bipan Chandra, Rajendra Yadav, Nabarun Bhattacharya and Khushwant Singh. Yes, I am talking about ‘Samanvay – IHC Indian Languages’ Festival’. The theme for the festival to be held this year from 6-9 November (2014) is ‘Translations-Transnations’. The festival is expected to cover 20 languages and dialects with more than 90 speakers participating in the 21 sessions. In addition to it there would be 4 evening performances as well.

For the first time, the festival will also host writers from SAARC  countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh etc. From Bangladesh – Fakrul Alam, Syed Shamshul Haque; From Nepal – Benju Sharma; From Sri Lanka – Deepachelvan will be participating.

With this year’s theme being “Translations Transnations” the festival will focus on Indian languages, which have a transnational presence like Bangla, Bhojpuri, Chhattisgarhi, English, Hindi, Konkani, Malayalam, Punjabi and Sanskrit.

The musical performance every evening has an eclectic mix of artist from across the country such as Sufi Singer Mir Mukhtiyar Ali, Naga Folk Music by Testeo Sisters, Abolo Naga, Manyang Kichu and Sepongla Sangtam, Swanand Kirkire and Vidya Shah





Book Review: ‘Love Among the Bookshelves’ by Ruskin Bond

‘Love among the Bookshelves’: Ruskin Bond


Rs. 299

Pages: 185

Ruskin-Bond-2“It wasn’t a bookshop, or a library, or a great-aunt’s hoard of romantic novels that made me a reader; it was the week I spent in a forest rest house, in what is now the Rajaji sanctuary, between Hardwar and Dehradun.”

If looked at a literary way with acute sense of digging out literature from every nook and corner of the world, this statement might be one of the most inspiring sentences that could be used to promote the book culture. Bookshops and libraries are the major sources of books or it might be sheer good luck that one might get good wealth of books from an ancestor.

The book in hand ‘Love among the Bookshelves’ is a compilation of inspiring extracts from the most cherishable books of all times and some of the forgotten classics, which have been stories he grew up with.

Bond as usual has a very interesting style of narrating and connecting things, especially when he tries to relate to the situation that served as a prelude to his ending up reading a particular book. After all, what could be more inspiring than telling the children that he spent all his pocket money in obtaining a particular book and then not being disappointed!

The book is partly Bond’s memoir, partly an anthology. Having written more than five hundred works, Bond is already an established favourite amongst not only children and youth but among adults as well. He has something for every age in each one of his book. The same holds true for this book as well. On the one hand, where this book works towards promoting book culture and serves as an effective source of inspiration for children; on the other hand, it also helps the reader to related to the life and likes of young Bond, who is now one of the most established Indian English authors.

The book is definitely an interesting reading and recommended for all age groups! Happy Reading!

Four Poems: Christopher Barnes


Poem I:

A Tickling Divorce



For Partials (Seal & Protect)

As A Partial Denture Wearer

You Want To Help Protect

Your Remaining Natural Teeth

By Following A Good Oral Care Routine

Every Day.

Using Polygrip For Partials Can Help.


Back-jumped at the elbow-room

Of having the bolt-hole to herself.


“Most will attempt to raise several broods

     Each year”


Finger-wagging…window shopping the calendar’s

Do-nothing blanks.


     “Provided climate conditions allow”

 It’s explicit she’s free as air.

“The breeding season of these birds”

 Mrs. Lother pouts, grins;

The mail packet’s chirruped to the kerb

And the postman also smiles.


By Christopher Barnes, UK

QUOTES: Gene Planker


Poem II:

Sand Fly Bites


Mr. Newberry bleats

Uncoupling eyelids,

On a Tasmanian Devil print bed-slip.


     “The foreigner and the citizen”


A Francis Ford Coppola moon’s PVC framed.


“Migration with a long history of control”


Whirling in Polygresis lamp

Smacks of background – no riddance tonight.


     “Restrictions and punishments previously imposed”


Besides, these small hours tiptoe. Bloat.



Home Baking

Lemon Juice

Made With Pure Lemon Juice

From Concentrate,

Perfect For Pancakes



By Christopher Barnes, UK

QUOTES: Centre On Migration, Policy & Society


Poem III:



Entanglements for Iris, footed all overstepping,

Defaulting to baiting postures.


“In the longer term alcohol is a depressant”


The Credulous Fool plunged into mist-yellow,

A wall of beating time. Twinkling fizz.


“In recent years

     There has been a discernable growth

     In ‘binge drinking”


Clumped on decking, mismarried John was huffed

At how uncannily her eyes

Free-willed from his to hers.



 Boots Pharmaceuticals – Wound Dressings Are Highly Absorbent

And They Have A Low Adherent Surface

Which Means They Do Not Stick To Your Wounds.



  1. Gently Clean The Wound
  2. Apply The Dressing To The Wound.
  3. Secure The Dressing In Place With A Dressing Tape Or Bandage.
  4. Apply Fresh Dressing As Required


By Christopher Barnes, UK

QUOTES: Birmingham City Council


Poem IV:

Grey Days Respite


Cliff Boxer’s dandruff was shoulder-to-shoulder.


“Individuals who tend to disregard and violate

     The rights of others”


Hedge-hop neighbours made wrong-footed dins,

Plonking hands, shedding tools

As fight-spoiling quick-changed to spats.


     “An enduring pattern of experience”


His whys nor wherefores were unflinching

And the embodiment of his better half

Flummoxed the jury.


“Egregious, harmful, or dangerous behaviour”




Coast & Country Holidays

Cottage Or Hotel Breaks In Rural Durham

Northumberland And Durham


Blue Beach Hotel – Amble

Flate Park Hotel – Co. Durham


By Christopher Barnes, UK

QUOTES: Psychology Today

Book Review: ‘The Journey of the Indian Novel’

Hussain, Md. Equebal. The Journey of the Indian Novel. New Delhi: Future Prints Private Ltd., 2012.

ISBN: 978-81-923989-0-7. (HB) pp. 167. Price: Rs. 300.


Reviewed by Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy*

The Journey of Indian Novel written by Dr. Md. Equebal Hussain is an extensive book on the Indian English novel. The book deals with the works of all major contemporary Indian English novelists. It has been divided into eight chapters with the names of the representative novelists respectively along with the conclusion. The chapterisation, made artistically, denotes all about the contents of the book. The long preface of the book provides a good introduction of the journey of the Indian English novel. The author calls the 1980s and 90s the ‘second renaissance’ of Indian Fiction in English and the novelists like Amitav Ghosh, Upamanyu Chatterjee. Shashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth, Vikram Chandra, Githa Hariharan, Rohinton Mistry, Arundhati Roy, Amitabh Chaudhary, Raj Kamal Jha, Pankaj Mishra, Kiran Desai, Arvind Adiga, Jhumpa Lahiri as harbingers of that ‘renaissance’. These writers, though inspired by their masters, believed to present the new and unexplored issues to the forefront. “The contemporary authors have taken up all kinds of subject of essential human concern- gender issues, power politics, communalism, fundamentalism, terrorism, secessionism, multiculturalism, marginalization, nuclear issue, environmental issues, search for identity, spiritual sterility of modern man, problems of youth, homosexuality, incest and so on.” (pp. 10-11) The ‘post colonial aura’ imbued with myth and history is dominant feature in the novels of this group. This note is also prevalent in the novels of Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Manju Kapoor and Tabish Khair. The author illustrates the emergence of feminism in the novels of Indian women novelists- Kamala Markandaya, Ruth Prawer Jhabwala, Anita Desai, Nayantara Sahgal, Shashi Deshpande, Bharti Mukharjee, Manju Kapoor, Gita Hariharan and Arundhati Roy. The diasporic writers- Gita Mehta, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Amitav Chaudhary, Bharti Mukharjee, Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri also get mention in the preface with “their penetrating insight into the expatriate experience or looking at India from afar.” (pp. 11-12)

The first chapter of the book entitled ‘The Early Masters: Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao’ deals with the major novels of the two fiction writers. The author describes Anand’s Untouchable and Coolie as the epics of misery. “The third novel Two Leaves and a Bud is also packed with Anand’s deep concern for the evils that plague the Indian society.” (p. 26) Raja Rao’s novels- Kanthapura (1938), The Serpent and the Rope (1960), The Cat and Shakespeare (1965), Comrade Kirrillov (1976), The Chess Master and his Moves (1988); his famous three collections of short stories- The Cow of the Barricades and Other Stories (1947), The Policeman and the Rose (1978) and On the Ganga Ghat (1989); and some of his fictional works are discussed thematically.

The second chapter ‘The Magic of Malgudi: RK Narayan’ begins with the note of Narayan’s view of writing. The author writes that “He is at heart an artist and his sole aim is to give aesthetic satisfaction.” (p. 35) The author also notes that “The dominant theme in the novels of RK Narayan is the comic clash between the two powerful social forces of tradition and modernity, and the matrix of human relationships. He is deeply rooted in the traditional culture of India and portrays Indian middle class life amidst various kinds of pressures. He depicts the Indian tradition and sensibility in all its hues in his novels.” (pp. 35-36)

The novels discussed in the book include Swami and Friends (1935), The Bachelor of Arts (1937), The Dark Room (1938), The English Teacher (1945), The Financial Expert (1952), Waiting for the Mahatma (1955), The Guide (1958), The Man Eater of Malgudi (1961) and The World of Nagaraj (1990). The author writes that “with the arrival of RK Narayan the thematic range of the Indian novel in English sharply increased.” (p.50)

Anita Desai’s all major works- Cry, the Peacock (1963), Voices in the City (1965), Bye Bye Blackbird (1971), Where Shall We Go This Summer (1975), Fire on the Mountain (1977), Clear Light of Day (1980), In Custody (1984), Baumgartner’s Bombay (1989), Journey to Ithaca (1996), Fasting, Feasting (1999) have been dealt including the collections of short stories- Games at Twilight and Other Stories (1978), Village by the Sea (1982), Diamond Dust (2001) and The Zigzag Way (2004). The author has divided Desai’s fictional works into three phases. The first phase is represented by Cry, the Peacock (1963), Voices in the City (1965) and Bye Bye Blackbird (1971). “The major characters of these three novels- Maya, Monisha, Norode, Adit and Dev are all very sensitive, psychological and neurotic characters struggling with their metaphysical, spiritual and existential experiences in an uncaring, materialistic and matter-of-fact universe.” (p. 60) The second phase of Desai’s literary career reflects her maturity comprising the novels – Where Shall We Go This Summer (1975), Fire on the Mountain (1977) and Clear Light of Day (1980). The third phase shows more maturity and it was this phase of writing which earned great prestige to Desai and added her in the list of great fiction writers of the world. This was the last phase represented by Journey to Ithaca (1996), Fasting, Feasting (1999) and The Zigzag Way (2004).

The author proves Anita Desai as the Virginia Woolf of India with vivid illustrations. He describes all issues of Desai’s novels including “familial relation, male attitude, clash between tradition and modernity, Hindu-Muslim relation, spiritualism, hybridity, shifting identity, immigration issues, anti-semitism, etc.” (pp. 69-70) He tries to establish the fact that “Anita Desai is one of the most distinguished Indian novelists in English and has added a new dimension to the contemporary Indian English fiction…” (p. 69).

The fourth chapter of the book is dedicated to Vikram Seth. He is termed as the “master of several literary genres – poetry, fiction, travelogues, poetic novel, opera and the translations” (p. 73). The author compares Vikram Seth with Mulk Raj Anand and RK Narayan and concludes that Seth has “made in-depth exploration of the issues which concern the whole of humanity beyond the frontiers of national boundaries.” (p. 73)

Seth’s famous novels- The Golden Gate (1986), A Suitable Boy (1993) and An Equal Music (1999) have been taken by the author for analysis. He has also mentioned Seth’s other works – Mappings (1981), The Humble Administrator’s Garden (1985), All You Who Sleep Tonight (1990), Beastly Tales from Here and There (1992), a travel book, From Heaven Lake (1983), a translation work, Three Chinese Poets (1992), and an opera text, Arion and the Dolphin (1994). The main thrust of this chapter (‘Vikram Seth: The Novelist with a Global Vision’) is to explore Seth’s ‘global vision’.

Arundhati Roy’s contribution to the Indian English Literature has been dealt in the fifth chapter, ‘Making Capital out of Small: Arundhati Roy’. The author begins the chapter with Roy’s titles showered by the jury of the coveted Booker Prize when she received it in 2007 for The God of Small Things. She was titled ‘the new deity of prose’ and ‘the princess of prose’. Roy’s ‘unorthodox’ views and “effort for drawing attention to the plight of the voiceless people of this economically imbalanced world” (p. 97) are the hallmark of her writings. The author has tried to investigate Roy’s ‘complex’ and ‘significant’ style of presentation along with “aesthetically satisfying mosaic of life.” (p. 98)

Kiran Desai’s ‘Probing Globalisation and its Discontent’ forms the sixth chapter of the book. The author describes her debut novel – Hullabaloo in Guava Orchard (1998) and Booker Prize winning novel The Inheritance of Loss (2006). The author goes through Kiran Desai’s academic and cultural background while depicting the hilarious pictures of Hullabaloo in Guava Orchard. He quotes about The Inheritance of Loss that it contains “her insightful and often humorous commentary on multiculturalism, cross-cultural and cross-class understanding, globalisation and immigrant experience” (qtd. 120). Imbued with varied subjects this novel was described as “globalised novel for a globalised world.” (qtd. 123)

The seventh chapter, ‘The Charles Dickens of Call Centre Generation: Arvind Adiga’ adds a new dimension to the book. The author discusses Adiga’s three works- The White Tiger (2008), Between the Assassinations (2008) and Last Man in Tower (2011). The Booker Prize winning novel, The White Tiger has the note of “vast economic inequality between the poor and the wealthy elite” (qtd. 139). The journey from ‘Bakha to Velutha’ and from ‘Velutha to Balram Halwai’ brings out the real pictures of “the injustices and discrimination against the downtrodden.” (p. 141)

The eighth and last chapter of the book forms conclusion. The author goes through the works of some contemporary writers and opines that “this genre of literature has made tremendous progress thematically as well stylistically.” (p. 145)

The book is truly a depiction of the journey of the Indian English novel. It is the thematic progression of Indian English novel that has given it an identity in the World Literature. The book written on the lines of historical development makes it a must for all who are interested in exploring Indian English Literature.


*A bilingual poet, writer, editor and critic

New Delhi, INDIA.