Sunday, January 6, 2008

"sex, drugs, rock AND roll"!!

Here’s what The Hindu’s Literary Review section has to say about Jet City Woman. Someone I know who has a book coming out this year messaged me today morning, “U shld thnk them fr givng ur plot away…” Personally, I’m beginning to feel it’s impossible to expect people to READ the book before writing about it: “He’s not left much of a chance because she announces that she is off abroad. Years later she meets him again.” Huh? The mystery woman Naina goes off to Mumbai for a while, and then after she comes back to Delhi my unnamed narrator meets her on and off. Then she goes off to London, and my narrator returns to Shillong. If she comes back to India and meets my narrator again, well, that’s a possibility I was thinking I could explore in a sequel!

I have a sneaking feeling some people don’t see the book as being serious and literary enough. How I wish they’d look beyond the whole sex, drugs, and ‘northeastern-ness’ thing and see the book for what I meant it to be: a story of a woman, and of a city. And "rock AND roll" makes me think of Elvis and Chuck Berry. However, to their credit, The Hindu also calls it “an honest novel”. The paper also mentioned my book in a story on debut writers, only they have it as “Jet Set Woman”! It’s not that I think my book is so good it’s beyond criticism: criticise, by all means, but do it intelligently for god’s sake. This is a first novel that took a lot of time and effort, so I wish a review of it would mention more than just the storyline. More than the reviewers, it’s the lay reader who leaves a comment on this blog or on my orkut profile that makes me feel that the book is worth something. Today’s Literary Review section also has a piece on Anjum Hasan from Shillong, who has a book of poetry and now a novel set in that town.

I’ve recently set up an orkut profile to go along with this blog. Interestingly, when you type in ‘ankush saikia’ on orkut there are 3 profiles by that name: one is yours truly, the other is an Assamese software engineer in Bangalore, and the third is someone from Benin who has a woman’s picture on his profile. Graham Greene wrote in his autobiography about the curious case of a 'Graham Greene' who travelled through Assam and Nagaland in the 1950s, was arrested by the police there, and let off when he identified himself as the novelist himself. I wonder if there’s someone in a small west African country at this moment passing himself off as the author of Jet City Woman!!

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