Harpreet Singh Makkar – Writer turned Publisher

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HARPREET SINGH MAKKAR

He was just any other author on facebook when I came across him. He had just penned his first novel. The pre-orders began a few days later. And then the book was out for sale. Though I was settled in New Delhi now, he being from my hometown, I was eager to have a look at his book. Before I could place an order for the book, it was decided amongst us that since I was visiting my hometown for a few days, we would meet and he would bring me a copy of his novel. This is how began my journey with ‘The Justified Sin’ and Harpreet Makkar, the author of this novel.

The contact was established on a literary note but as I began to discover him I knew the kind of person and business man he was. He shared his aspirations about his literary career and the kind of fields he wanted to venture into. We talked at length about the kind of publishers we have around, how they rob the author of the charm they have about their writings. The modern day publishers are only out to satisfy themselves by going all out to fulfill their vested interests without caring a fig for the respect of the accuracy of the printed word, let alone being true to their commitments to the authors.

The interactions with him have been few and far between but I have always remembered him as a friend and someone who is there to give you the moral support when needed the most. A while ago he announced his own publishing company, ‘Petals Publishers and Distributors’. Now this was something I almost expected from him and had an inclination that he would do it in a brilliant way. The company has already started churning out some true ‘unputdownable’ books.

I read his novel ‘The Justified Sin’ again recently. And I found the book even more interesting this second time.

To that unknown princess,

Lost in the folds of past…

She was back, yes she was,

With a smile, but a chaos,

What to do, to be lost,

Stay there or to be in past…

  • Harpreet Makkar

 

About the Book :
What do you call it when three beautiful women come in your life, but you are still single? What if they all, at some point, tried to entice you, but you feel like committing suicide because of loneliness? What do you call it when you made no mistake, but still, you feel guilty as sin?

Jay had a common life until Saloni, Prachi and Vineeta came in his life and changed everything.
At times, he avoided the love that knocked at his door, and when he actually needed it, the same love kicked him.
He betrayed.
He got betrayed.
He rejected.
He got rejected.
From being shot in the back by Prachis father to getting intimate with Vineeta under the influence of alcohol, his life was as spicy as those masala Bollywood movies!
He was getting used to his life, until one night, he decides to jump off a building.

 

The book not only has an interesting storyline but also the psychological unraveling of the protagonist. The book has enough potential and gives you enough food for thought.

In case someone is still not convinced, I can write another page! But I don’t think that’ll be required! Happy Reading!

 

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

‘Love among the Bookshelves’: Ruskin Bond

Penguin/Viking

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!

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.

    

 

Book Review: ‘Contemporary Indian Fiction in English’

Panwar, Dinesh and Roy, Vijay Kumar. (Ed.) Contemporary Indian Fiction in English: Critical Studies. New Delhi: Alfa Publications, 2013. ISBN: 978-93-82302-98-8. (HB) pp. 173. Price: Rs. 595.

Reviewed by Dr. Tribhuwan Kumar*

             The contemporary Indian English Fiction has created its own niche in the twenty first century Indian English Literature. A new generation of novelists including Khushwant Singh, Arun Joshi, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Salman Rushdie, Manju Kapur, Amitav Ghosh and Kiran Desai have come into lime light and produced an entirely different note.

Contemporary Indian Fiction in English: Critical Studies, edited byDr. Dinesh Panwar and Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy, is a collection of thirteen well-researched critical papers on the works of contemporary Indian English novelists. The anthology brings contemporary Indian English fictions to attention and acknowledges its relevance. The first paper of the anthology is the critical evaluation of Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan. The novelist writes on sensational issue and the present paper is also the manifestation of the same spirit. It graphically and boldly describes the theme of social, cultural and religious identities, the theme of violence, murders, rapes, bestiality and migration, and the ill-fate of the nation, India, being split into two halves.

The second paper entitled “Dilemma of Existence of a Modern Man in Arun Joshi’s The Last Labyrinth.” The author of the paper analyses the psyche of modern man, his quest for self identity and craving for peace and happy life. The third chapter is the visualisation of social reality in the rural India through the selected novels of Kamala Markandaya. The author gives vivid description of the oriental culture through a number of Markandaya’s representative novels: Some Inner Fury, Nectar in the Sieve, Possession, A Handful of Rice, The Coffer Dams, Two Virgins and The Golden Honeycomb.

The fourth paper carries out the realities beyond the confined self through the critical enunciation of Anita Desai’s In Custody. The author has exploited the various linguistic devices employed to peel of the psychic truth. ‘Psychology is the representation of truth and reality’ becomes the benchmark of the analysis of the paper. T Jeevan Kumar, in his paper “Shashi Deshpande’s Small Remedies: A Critical Study”, brings out in the forefront the agony and suffering, exploitation and suppression of women through the literary work of a great feminist novelist.

The next paper deals with the theme of women emancipation in details through the major works of Manju Kapur. The paper logically illustrates the changing role of women from the dead past where women rely on others for emotional and worldly need to the bright present where she is conditioned to lead and see themselves as victors rather than victims of circumstances. Erosion of personal and social values in Indian society is the major concern at the present time. The author in the seventh paper depicts daringly deteriorating relationships and marital maladies through the major novels of the great diasporic novelist Jhumpa Lahiri.

Amitav Ghosh can be called the major novelist among the contemporary Indian fiction writers both on quantity and quality basis. The anthology comprises three research papers on Ghosh. In the first paper, the author interprets history in The Calcutta Chromosome through Bakhtinian perspective. In the next paper on Ghosh, Antara Saha interprets The Hungry Tide in the light of ecocriticism. The author wonderfully describes how ecological crisis can be portrayed through symbols. The next paper deals with linguistic and stylistic features in the Sea of Poppies.

In the eleventh paper, authors make a comparative study on the importance of relationships in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Shobha De’s S’s Secret. There are two papers on Kiran Desai. In the first paper, author deals with the theme of transformation of evolution through the protagonist Sampath in Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. The last paper of the anthology takes into account the themes of inferiority complex and Indian’s undying passion for the west through the well known novel The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.

Contemporary Indian English Fiction has become, in recent years, one of the most dynamic areas of literary pursuit in India. The main strength of book can be summed up as ‘universality in diversity’. This anthology presents a fascinating range of critical papers on Indian English fiction. The diversity of approaches taken in this anthology and the wide range of topics and analytical approaches have astonishing advantages to the researchers. The editors have tried to include almost all the contemporary fiction writers in Indian English Fiction, which help to understand this genre with full capacity. Overall, this anthology enriched with the prevailing trends in the contemporary Indian English Fiction and brought out by Dr. Dinesh Panwar and Dr. Vijay Kumar Roy is very useful for teachers and researchers interested in exploring Indian English Fiction in depth and detail.

                 *Assistant Professor of English

                 SRM University, NCR Campus

Modinagar, Ghaziabad, UP.

 

***

Arnab Neogi: The Poet

About the Poet:

Arnab Neogi, a computer engineer from B.I.T, Kolkata and a management graduate from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar is a poet and an author in his free time.

His writing career spans more than a decade. He got critical recognition when one of his earliest poems “Remembering the Dead” appeared in the “Inkspot” column of The Pioneer Ltd. He was 12 at that time. Thereafter, his poems started appearing regularly in national dailies like The Times of India, The Hindustan Times Ltd etc.

He published his first volume of poetry titled “Inspiration“(2007, Offset printer and Publishers, Lucknow). His second volume titled “Beyond the Silver Lining” (2013, Sanbun Publishers, New Delhi) was met with success and rave reviews.

He is featured in more than a dozen national and international anthologies. His works have also been published in leading poetry journals like the Taj Mahal Review (Volume 12, No 2, Dec 2012 issue), Muse India (Issue 49, April-June).

He was interviewed by the German magazine “Spotlight” in an online interview to share his success story about his latest book “Beyond the Silver Lining”.

He is the co-founder and managing editor of an art promotion group called “Creative Collaborations”. He is also project coordinator for ‘Poets’ Corner’, a poetry promotion and publishing group which published an anthology “Inklinks”  that was released in the “Delhi Poetry Festival- Jan,2013”. The anthology includes works from eminent personalities like Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, Gulzaar, Mr. Ruskin Bond, Hon’Ble Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal, Sandeep Nath, Irshad Kamil, Ibrahim Ashk, Sonnet Mondal etc.

His membership of literary organizations include the Indian Society of Authors (InSA, New Delhi), Poetry Society of India, The Indian Poetry Society, Asia-Pacific Writers and Translators Association and he has been granted the coveted membership of World Poets Society and the United Poets Laureate International.

Apart from poetry, he has a passion for guitar and loves playing the instrument.

 

Here are a few of his poems:

A THOUSAND WOUNDS          

The storm shan’t pass,

disaster on thy women with labour,

 

with pain fraught a thousand mornings,

rise each day and behold the roses

or your beloved by your side,

cuddling her to hypocrisy, to forgone passion,

 

the bed creaks, the panes shatter,

the house is on fire, the smoke billets cloud;

the couple, unfathomable deep, their passion

are unmoved, ’tis but natural for them;

 

a thousand tales told, listened and forgotten,

this one wasn’t told, a country bleeds,

the faces around harrowed, smells burnt human flesh,

and the blood is but water,

 

doth the past still haunt us, or ’tis but present?

I ruminate, as I sit with wine

on a lonely day, lonely place, heart….

Waiting for my girl, my disaster,

love or hate forebrings thine shadow,

in life or death, thy shadow moves and

inflicts a thousand wounds…

 

Colors of Imagination

As the heat builds, and the sweat drips,
Eyes fixated on that little smear of tinge,
Cursing and swearing behind his breath,
The painter shoved back and fell flat;

That little gentle stroke did more to the art
Than to the psyche of the hand that painted,
The hand in the sketch seemed to move sideways,
Or so it seemed to the eyes outside the frame;

And canvassed was the soul who painted, illusioned
To the very life he inserted into the hand he sketched,
And he questioned the reality, himself or the hand inside?
The painter thus shoved back and fell flat;

Art doth feed upon the artist brutally,
The artist dies and the art burns his pyre….

 

The Woman

 

A cyclical tale of two hearts,

Woven into a string
Manifested, the sparkle around the neck,
A pure shimmer in the eyes, blinked;

Love hath no destination
The journey be enjoyed,
A Woman, the woman’s big heart
Big eyes, big love shared across;

A completeness to each soul,
A song sung in every heart,
A tune whispered in the ears,
‘The woman’ blesseth the man;

How can I find a gauge
To measure the depth?
Or lets dive into the ocean
Asphyxiated, yet mutual air to breathe;

‘A woman’ is born
To absorb and fume our love,
And the man can’t reciprocate
Yes, incapacitated to reply love;

Such is the tale of ‘the woman’
With a single focus, change constant,
Only to love and be loved
Never to shed a tear…….

 

Through the mountains….

When the wind recalls a memory,

And puritans call it love,

Don’t I feel a familiar smell?

The roads appear winding and smiling;

 

The mind tries and breaks free,

And the body holds back,

Fake attraction and incurable death down,

Loves feeling the pain for love;

 

A little subtle gesture a lone solace,

Do everything for that one moment,

Turn side and behold the horizon,

Keep moving and see more;

 

The mountains are so still,

Changes color with time,

Just watches and never reacts,

Zenith in its lap, inertia at its feet;

 

I go, and would never come back,

Through the mountains I go and search…..