The diversity of contributors, and that of their ideas, makes me feel that some very important developments in the realm of ideas is likely to come from China, it is mind boggling to see the sources that the Chinese who are in their thirties and forties are able to draw from, including, but not limited to the Marxist tradition.
Andrey Platonov’s grim allegory in The Foundation Pit confirms the universality of the work- the grotesque picture that he paints is based on the forced collectivization under Stalin in the 1920s, but the conclusions seems to be as relevant today when something similar is being attempted by the onslaught of neo- liberalism.
In the novel the character Voshchev is discharged from his job in a machine factory “because of his increasing loss of powers and tendency to stop and think amidst the general flow of work”, something that is continuously sought to be acheived not by a propagandistic state but by the increasingly proliferating “entertainment” industry.
The most pleasant experience in the year was my discovery of three writers from Argentina: the well known Manuel Puig (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Eternal Curse on the Reader of these Pages) whom I read for the first time, Tomás Eloy Martínez (all three novels published till date in English- The Peron Novel, Santa Evita and The Tango Singer, the last one published earlier this year), and Cesar Aira (his An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, 2006).
Roberto Bolano’s Distant Stars and to a lesser extent his collection of short stories published earlier this year, Last Evenings on Earth, did not surprise with his ability to weave the political tapestry of Chile in the aftermath of the coup in 1973.
In Indian fiction, Asomiya writer Indira Goswami’s Under the Shadow of Kamakhya reaffirmed for me her stature as a major Indian writer.
Oriya writer Fakir Mohan Senapathy’s Six acres and Half, considered to be the first modern Oriya novel. In a series of short, funny, delectable chapters he paints the social structure in Orissa in the 19th century.
Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines showcases Ghosh’s talent for writing and for creating some memorable characters, but on the basic idea- the inadequacy of the nation state in defining identity- it was disappointing, the treatment remains for most part at an emotional level.
PV Narasimha Rao’s 6 December 1992 gave the then Prime minister’s views on the run up to the destruction of the Babri Masjid, and much else, without shedding any new light though.
One ends this long year,on a cloudy, rainy evening with some books still unfinished: Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable, Juan Rulfo’s The Burning Plain, Andre Malraux’s Anti- memoirs and Salvoj Zizek’s The Parallax View.
Each, in it’s own manner, was not completed by the deadline that I set for them.
Words, it seems, refuse to follow calendars.
Related Post: The Year Gone By: 2005
Bibliophil Link for the list of books that I read this year.
About the Image: A Halloween Buddha. I found it interesting that someone should use Buddha for Halloween. Does it still remain Halloween?