Monday, 23 February 2015

Space for Thought: the LSE Literary Festival

Space for Thought, a literary festival organised by The London School Of Economics (LSE), starts today. Each year, the Festival seeks to explore an idea at the heart of LSE, encapsulated in the motto: to understand the causes of things.  This year, the theme is foundations, and the Festival will therefore examine foundations of various sorts: of knowledge; of society; of identity; of literature. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Book of the Lunar Year: full results

As announced yesterday Bamboo Heart by Ann Bennett has won the poll to find Asian Books Blog’s Book of the Lunar Year. 

Most people simply voted, but some included comments explaining why they’d made their choice. Here are some comments typical of those made about Bamboo Heart:

The story is gripping, the characters well-drawn and believable and it is very well written. 

A truly compelling read.

This was such a moving story, beautifully told, balancing a flavour of the place and time with a deep involvement in the lives of interesting, well-drawn and, above all, credible characters.

A wonderful uplifting read - a new perspective about the death railway.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Book of the Lunar Year: Bamboo Heart

The winner of the inaugural Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar Year, in the Year of the Horse, is Bamboo Heart, by Ann Bennett, with 34% of votes cast.  

Congratulations Ann!!!  

Blog readers have said some lovely things about Bamboo Heart. Full analysis of the results, and comments from voters, will follow tomorrow.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Book of the Lunar Year New Date

The announcement of the Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar Year will now take place on Friday, 20 Feb, not Wednesday, 18 Feb.  If you want to vote, but haven't yet got around to it, please do so!!! See here for details. Currently A Madras Miasma and Bamboo Heart are in the lead. Capital has gained quite a few votes in the last couple of days. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Questions & Answers: Alison Jean Lester

American-born, but Singapore-based, author Alison Jean Lester has just published Lillian on Life, a wonderful novel, one that I urge you to read.  It is a funny, wise, honest, and moving exploration of one woman’s life, her loves and losses, and her thoughts on everything from sex, to English as a foreign language – indeed, the whole novel is constructed out of short reflections, On Getting To Sex, On English As A Foreign Language, etc.

Alison Jean Lester came to Singapore from Tokyo in 1999 as a trailing spouse, with two little children in tow. When she and her husband separated two years later, and then divorced, neither of them wanted to leave.  Alison says: “Singapore proved to be a very good place for us. We could pursue our working goals and raise our children in a supportive environment without many of the stresses we would have experienced in other major cities. There were certainly times when I would have liked to leave, but it made the best sense to stay, and I was rewarded by meeting my second husband here.”

So: questions and answers with Alison Jean Lester

Karachi Winners

The winners of the three literary prizes awarded at the Karachi Literary Festival have been announced.  

The winners for the Peace Prize sponsored by the German Embassy / Consulate:
1st Prize Mecca by Ziauddin Saddar
1st Prize The Ahmadis and the politics of religious exclusion in Pakistan by Ali Usman Qasmi
2nd Prize Conflict management and vision for a secular Pakistan by Moonis Ahmar
3rd Prize Delhi by Heart by Raza Rumi

The winner for the Fiction Prize sponsored by the French Embassy:
Survival Tips for Lunatics by Shandana Minhas

The winner for Nonfiction Prize sponsored by Coca Cola: 

Ottoman Turkey, Ataturk, and Muslim South Asia, Perspectives, Perceptions, and Responses, by M. Naeem Qureshi

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Questions & Answers: Ubud Writers Group

Raelee Chapman talks to Steve Castley, of the Ubud Writers Group. Steve has self-published two books, Through My Eyes: Adventures in Bali, in 2010 and A taste of Bali: stories and poems, in collaboration with Julie Silvester, in 2011. He is currently working on a gay romance called Nothing is Forever, and also a memoir called Stuffy's Story: 3 Mums, 6 Years.

How long has your writers group been running? When and why was it formed?
The Ubud Writers Group was founded on the 16th September 2008 and has grown in strength ever since.
Our group has been operating for nearly 8 years now and for me it is a highlight of my fortnight. I know this is also true for the other members.
In the fledgling years, we were hobby writers, scared to share our writing, fearful of having our egos bruised. But our group was set up to encourage writing and writers and our members have never lost sight of that goal.
We trust each other and are sensitive to the way we give feedback. Each one of us has evolved as a writer and the Ubud Writers’ Group can take some credit for this. We are a group that inspires writers and writing.
Writers’ Groups are worth seeking out. I doubt that any two operate in the same way, but they are made up of like-minded people who love to read and write.