Tag Archives: Amitav Ghosh

Le Grande Triptych Humanism: Brinda Bose and Prasanta Chakravarty


Haruki Murakami’s much-hyped IQ84 that released worldwide in translation a couple of months ago is (Our) Big Fat Japanese Novel, three volumes in one. Closer home, Amitav Ghosh is in the process of completing the definitive South Asian Maritime Novel in trilogy. Young, prize-winning, promising writers from around the world – New Zealand, Malaysia, Bangladesh – are pledged to regale us with long large narratives that will tell us everything we ever wanted to know about their cultures, societies, lives – in trilogies and quartets. Intriguing? Indeed. Coincidental? Perhaps not.

Even as new literary canons are continually in consolidation, interrogation and re-formation, Franco Moretti – acclaimed, revered, preeminent theorist of the Novel and World Literature (which enjoy an odd synecdochic relationship) – has systematically constructed a blueprint for ways to appreciate the worth of such a grand, if loose, canon as World Literature by a particular reading technique he calls ‘distance-reading’.

Continue reading Le Grande Triptych Humanism: Brinda Bose and Prasanta Chakravarty

Amitav Ghosh on Goa

Some musings here about the liberation of Goa from Portugese rule by India:

But the interaction between Portugal and India also produced vibrant cultural hybrids in architecture, music and food. Among the state’s most famous dishes is the spicy vindaloo, a curry whose name is thought to be a contraction of the Portuguese phrase “vinho de alho,” or garlic wine. Besides, as Mr. deSouza pointed out, Goa was where the influence of the Enlightenment and the Renaissance in Europe was felt much before it reached other parts of India. As a result, the practice of sati – or widows immolating themselves on their husbands’ funeral pyres – was abolished in Goa 200 years before the British banned it in the rest of India. [Naresh Fernandes]

And on Portugese language, 50 years after the Portugese were sent back to Portugal:

The popular history of the Portuguese period in Goa has largely been restricted to the gory tales of the initial conquest of the island of Goa, of the Inquisition, and the dramatization of the anti-colonial episodes in the territory’s history. To a large extent, this nationalist history dissuades Hindus from subaltern castes from studying the language. This has ensured that it is solely dominant-caste narratives that are incorporated into the histories of the territory, preventing alternative and liberatory narratives to emerge from a re-reading of the texts and narratives of the period of Portuguese sovereignty over the territory.  It is little known for example, that the knowledge of Portuguese is critical to the bahujan challenge to Hindu upper-caste groups’ monopolistic control of the Goan temples. This monopolistic control of the temples was forged in particular through these latter groups’ knowledge of Portuguese. [Jason Keith Fernandes]

‘An acceptance of Israel’s legitimacy does not imply an acceptance of all that it does’: Amitav Ghosh

Given the long discussion on an earlier post on this subject, I think it is important to post here Amitav Ghosh’s long, persuasive response to the campaign that requested him not to accept the Dan David Prize. I’m taking the liberty of copying this response from here.

May 14, 2010

Dear Signatories to the letter of May 7:

I am sorry I have been slow to respond to your letter expressing disappointment in my decision to to accept the Dan David prize. I will attempt to do so now. Continue reading ‘An acceptance of Israel’s legitimacy does not imply an acceptance of all that it does’: Amitav Ghosh

‘Boycott of Israel would not serve any useful tactical purpose’: Amitav Ghosh

The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and Pakistanis for Palestine amongst others have appealed to the novelist Amitav Ghosh to decline the Israeli Dan David Prize he is being given jointly with Margaret Atwood.

The BRICUP open letter to Ghosh reads:

It’s surprising to have to raise Israeli colonialism with a writer whose entire oeuvre seems to us an attempt to imagine how human beings survived the depredations of colonialism. Gosh, even the Dan David judges like the way you evoke ‘the violent dislocations of people and regimes during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’.

Those making him this appeal have reminded him of his rejection of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2001.

Give below is Ghosh’s response to the appeal: Continue reading ‘Boycott of Israel would not serve any useful tactical purpose’: Amitav Ghosh