Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Writers and Jaipur's heritage

Abhay Mishra's piece in the Indian Express today, "Meet Rushdie, Kiran Desai at Jaipur Heritage Festival," piqued my interest. Anyone been the the heritage fest? Will this manufactured event actually provide fruitful literary commentary, or is it just a publicity stunt, featuring fleeting glimpses of authors whom we have constructed as heroes?

Unfortunately, the article doesn't provide any answers -- or even any details, beyond the fact that it is sometime between January 13 and 23 and presumably in the Pink City -- so I can't offer much food for thought.

I have, however, just finished The Inheritance of Loss, written by Desai. Not great (though it was awarded this year's Booker), but certainly not execrable. It seemed to lack a certain formal structure, hiding behind the larger issues it presented, but perhaps that's just the influence of recent criticism I've imbibed. I will say, however, that the way Desai ran together words reminded me of Arundhati Roy, and at time I contemplated whether Desai won only because India is such a hot topic these days. Furthermore, the part of the novel I found most emotionally resonant? When the dog, Mutt (Mutt Mutty Mutton Chop!) was taken from its owner. Probably not the lasting impression the author hoped her readers would glean.

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