Tuesday, December 11, 2007

jet city woman reaches shillong

Trying to fit too much into 24 hours can be tiring. On Friday, after a long and busy day at the office, I had to take my motorcycle through the evening rush hour traffic from Panchsheel Park to Connaught Place for the book launch of Anjum Hasan’s Lunatic in my Head, published by Penguin–Zubaan. Parking your two-wheeler in CP’s inner circle is a thing of the past: now you have to drive into a dusty grotto of a parking lot beside the entrance to Pallika Bazar. The launch was held at The Attic, a small artsy place somewhere inside Regal Building. It has walls daubed with what seems like cowdung, along with spotlights and speakers for performances. There were about thirty people present; I knew only a few, like Anita Roy of the feminist publishers Zubaan: Anita was at Dorling Kindersley earlier, which is where I work now.

Anjum Hasan started out by reading an excerpt from her novel, which is set in Shillong: it turned out to be about a character called Aman Moondy who listens to Pink Floyd and is trying to get into the civil services. Anjum may have spent nearly a decade in Bangalore, but listening to her talk there was the unmistakable Loreto Convent/Pinemount School twang from Shillong. Later there was a discussion between her and Siddhartha Deb, with Deb asking her about things like identity and otherness and that small town called Shillong. I had to leave halfway through the discussion to get back to Panchsheel Park to attend a year-end office party. There was nobody else from Shillong there at The Attic. I hope Anjum’s book does well. The office party was fun.

The unnamed narrator of my novel while wandering through Delhi with the mystery woman Naina would have seen sights like these:

“She? Fast flour mein.”

Holy Spirit: Give your drink that divine touch.

Do turn up at the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre at 7 p.m. on the 14th of December 2007; i’ll be there as a last-minute addition to a ‘Young Writers’ programme which is part of the Delhi International Arts Festival. There should be drinks (i’ll have to confirm this), and you can watch me giving my first ‘talk’. The 14 th is also my birthday, so i’d be very pleased to see you there, and so will my publishers and the organisers.

In other news: Jet City Woman has at last reached bookstores in Shillong, the other main setting in the book after Delhi. The book was listed in the new releases section of The Pioneer last-to-last Sunday, and of the Business Standard last Saturday. The first review appeared last Friday in the Assam Tribune, which is published from Guwahati. For some reason the books section isn’t listed on their website, so I’ve asked a cousin from Guwahati to send me a copy of the paper. The Hindustan Times and the India Today group’s new newspaper Mail Today are supposed to carry a review of the book one of these Sundays. A review in Tehelka also looks likely. Keep watching this space to see what the critics have to say about the book.

Managed to catch Khoya Khoya Chand on Sunday evening at a nearby PVR, then came home and watched Capote on Star Movies. Both movies are about men who took the written word with the utmost seriousness, both are set in the 1950s–1960s, and both are about the pain of transforming life into art. And in both movies the female lead (Nikhat, and Harper Lee, respectively) comes off looking better than the selfish male writer. So should you watch Khoya Khoya Chand, or Capote? That's up to you, but you should read the novel written by this male writer. Jet City Woman it’s called. The rediff.com review of the former movie is interesting for the strong reactions the reviewer manages to get from his readers: go through the discussion board and you’ll get the idea.


B_G said...

I was googling bookkstores in guwahati when i came across your page. funny, because i want to solve the chicken-egg dilemma of the book scenario of our region if given the chance.

also, I hadn't heard of Jet City Woman before but now I must read it I guess.

Ankush Saikia said...

b_g: Send me a mail at ankush_as@rediffmail.com b_g. And get your hands on the book soon!

Anonymous said...

i read "lunatic in my head" and i loved it. i hadn't heard about Anjum Hasan before (i'm not much into poetry) and was a little hesitant about picking up the book. the book got me by surprise, the cover page looks humble and the title being borrowed from a Pink Floyd song (brainwash, dark side of the moon, if you must know) sets up a mediocre image. all of this changed. the characters are extremely well built, and the plot has a very natural flow to it, stringing up the different characters and various sub plots smoothly. "lunatic in my head" is an exemplar debut novel, and i hope she will soon write more.

i hadn't heard about Jet city woman, but will surely pick up a copy on my next visit to the bookstore.

Anyways, getting to the point, hi i'm Abhinav Sharma, a photographer, and i'm looking for a writer to start a project on "delhi". yes, i know there have been many many books on delhi, the city of dijins,
and one by Khusvant Singh, to name a few. the city of dijins deals with mainly the history of the magical city and doesnot talk at length on its beauty, non the less is very enjoyabe, and the one by Kushwant Singh i haven't read. does it talk about the capital's various priceless ornament and has pictures of the beloved city? i would guess otherwise.

here is my e-mail id, abhinav003@gmail.com
i can send you some of my pictures if you are interested in such a project.