Monday, January 12, 2009

The Sting of Good Fiction?

I associate the magazine Tehelka with sting operations and investigative journalism. Journalist, Naipaul fan and Army brat (a rather afffectionate way of describing those who spent their childhoods in the Army thanks to their dads being in uniform) Tarun Tejpal is a writer of no mean repute himself and each issue of Tehelka has some good articles on literature and book reviews. That notwithstanding it was a pleasant surprise to see the Jan 10 issue of Tehelka. This year-end double issue has 15 short stories by Indian writers. This list includes 'seniors' like Ruskin Bond (born 1934) and 'juniors' like Amruta Patil (born 1979).

The stories have a common theme: Excess. In an introductory note Tejpal says, "The writers were given no other brief. Just the one word." I found this bit enlightening, "I once asked the great writer O.V. Vijayan what was it that literature did that gave it a showcase place in civilisation. He thought for a bit, and said, "It refines us. And that is a very big thing." In a time of bombarding information and facts, of crude posturing and increasing battlelines, this special issue of original fictions is then about that - that amorphous 'refining' thing."

The contributors in this year-end double issue include: Altaf Tyrewala, Manjula Padmanabhan, Mridula Koshy, Tishani Doshi, Rajorshi Chakraborti, Ruskin Bond, Amruta Patil, Sunetra Gupta, Vivek Narayanan, Ambarish Satwik, Sarnath Banerjee, Anjum Hasan, Sudeep Chakravarti, Kalpish Ratna and Rana Dasgupta.

Click here to get to this special issue in the Tehelka archives.

p.s. I have picked up 5 copies of the print edition at the princely sum of Rs. 20 per copy. The idea is to gift it to those friends in town who like good writing.


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