Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Emperor of Wit, Humour and Laughter is Dead. Long Live the Emperor!

I had the opportunity of meeting Khushwant Singh, the Emperor of Wit, Humour and Laughter at the "Leslie Sawhney Programme of Training in Democracy" at Hotel Clarks Shiraz, Agra in the late '70s. The meeting, though brief, remains deeply entrenched in my memory. 

I have been a great admirer of Khushwant ever since I read his Train to Pakistan in my undergraduate years. The novel, in my opinion, is one of the best to emerge from the sub-continent's traumatic experience of the Partition. Despite the virtual deluge of literary works available on the theme of Partition today, reading Train to Pakistan continues to remain an unforgettable experience. Above all, it brings to the fore Khushwant's masterly art of story-telling. 

I have been an avid reader of his regular weekly column "With Malice towards One and All" as much as I loved his uncharacteristic flamboyant style that set at naught all hypocritical traditions and limitations to create a canon which only he was capable of creating. It was a pleasure to introduce him to my M.A. English students just the other day through the Sahitya Akademi documentary on the life and work of the legend. I narrated a few jokes from his joke books which the students thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps, somewhere deep down, I had the premonition that the Emperor was getting ready for his final journey. The laughter that we shared still rings loud and clear amid the surrounding gloom of the vacuum created by his departure for the abode of the immortals, as a befitting tribute to the legend who, until his very last, continued to entertain and enlighten one and all with his writings. May his soul rest in peace that passeth understanding. --Nibir K. Ghosh, March 21, 2014.

Khushwant Singh: in his own words...

“In a humourless nation like ours it doesn’t take much wit to be regarded as a humorist. It came as a very pleasant surprise to me to discover that the first item most of my readers read in my columns is the last one which I usually reserve for a humorous anecdote. The conclusion is clear we may not have much humour in ourselves but we enjoy it coming from others. A god joke is a tonic for appetites jaded by an unending and unsavoury diet of politics, corruption, religious and social problems…

We Indians are singularly humourless people who find it difficult to laugh unless it is prescribed by a doctor and administered as a dose good for our health. Go to any park in any city and you will see middle-aged men and women with long, sad faces looking as if they had just broken away from a funeral procession for a few minutes to rest their feet before rejoining it.

They line up on a lawn like soldiers on drill and await their leader’s command to begin their exercise. He raises one arm; they fall silent. He brings it down with a jerk, they start laughing – hee, hee, hee – haw, haw, haw – and bray like donkeys for full fifteen minutes. Their leader raises his hand again. They fall silent. Put back their long, sad faces, break lines and rejoin the funeral procession.

I am not sure there will be yet another compilation of my jokes. I hope others will take it up after I have been summoned by the Lord to regale Him with the latest jokes doing the rounds in the world He created.” – Khushwant Singh

Sunday, 9 March 2014

From Amritjit Singh

Hi Nibir, 

Thanks and congrats! Good looking volume with many good pieces.  

Please make sure to send two copies to me. 

Best, Amritjit 
Dr. Amritjit Singh is Langston Hughes Professor of English at Ohio University, Athens, U.S.A.

Sharing Comments on Mirrors & Lamps

Charles Johnson, National Book Award Winner, the first African American writer to win the award after Ralph Ellison.
Nibir, this is a beautiful book! I'm really happy to see that it's close to publication, and that so many of my friends and colleagues (and a former student)have work represented on these pages---Richard Hart, Michael Boylan, Amritjit Singh, Kathleen Alcala. Congratulations on another work of international significance!
Three Deep Bows to You,
Dear Nibir, 
Charles Johnson just shared with me the blog announcing your forthcoming book, Mirrors and Lamps: Global Perspectives.  It looks terrific.  I know Chuck’s piece well, of course, and it is a superb essay.  You are doing very important work.  Many thanks.
Marc C. Conner
Dr. Marc C. Conner is Professor of English at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.  He took degrees in English and Philosophy at the University of Washington, followed by the Ph.D. degree in English at Princeton University, and has taught at Princeton and at the University of Notre Dame.  His books include The Aesthetics of Toni Morrison:  Speaking the Unspeakable, and Charles Johnson: The Novelist as Philosopher, both published by the University Press of Mississippi, and The Poetry of James Joyce Reconsidered, forthcoming from Florida.  In addition, Marc has published dozens of essays and book reviews on American and Irish Modernism.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Forthcoming...Shortly Due for Launch

Mirrors and Lamps:Global Perspectives



Mirrors and Lamps: Global Perspectives, edited by Niobir K. Ghosh and A. Karunaker, brings together writers, academics and scholars from various parts of the world to discuss and deliberate on issues and concerns central to the human predicament through different times and climes. Be it the sphere of the racial dilemma, diasporic ambivalence or a simple but determined effort to negotiate domestic space, one cannot miss the resonant voice of change that emphatically articulates how “poetry” can and does make everything happen! The creative and critical renderings that appear in this collection may mirror the stark reality of calamities, conflicts and apocalypses but they also inspire us to believe that lamps of compassion, peace, harmony and brotherhood will ultimately dispel the darkness that surrounds us on all sides.

The book is undeniably enriched by Sundeep Arora's elegant cover graphics.


Mirrors and Lamps - Nibir K. Ghosh

The Enduring Kinship of Literature and Philosophy - Charles Johnson

Trust the Tale; Trust the Body: D.H. Lawrence Revisited - Jonah Raskin

Richard Wright: Beyond the Harlem Renaissance - Amritjit Singh

History, Morality, Characterization, and the Draft Riots: Peter Quinns Banished Children of Eve - James R. Giles

A Novel Advance in Morality: Rorty and Steinbeck - Richard E. Hart

Explaining the Ineffable - David Ray

Of Hyacinths and Biscuits: Reflections on Poetry - Shanta Acharya

Give to the World the Best You Have: Conversation with Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui - Sunita Rani & Nibir K. Ghosh

Yvor Winters: An Appreciation - Wanda H. Giles

Decentring the Centre: Narrative Strategies in Mehr Nigar Masroor’s Shadows of Time and Shauna Singh Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers - Seema Malik

“The Color Line: An Enduring Arbiter of Human Worth”: Conversation with Joseph Jordan - Nibir K. Ghosh

Creativity and Politics of Representation: Tribal Literature in Northeast India - Sukalpa Bhattacharjee
Partition:A Permanent Scar - Shekhar Varma

The Awakening: Ibsen’s A Doll’s House - Sohrab Sharma

“Why Are You Crying We Are Sisters”: Women Redefined - Seema Shekhar

Print Medium and Language: A Review of Learning Skills - Raichel M. Sylus

Moving Left to the Autobahn Blues (Short Story) - Michael Boylan

La Otra (Short Story) - Kathleen Alcalá

The Gifts (Poem) - Judy Ray

A Lie that Tells the Truth (Review Essay) - Sushil Gupta

Friday, 7 March 2014

Re-Markings Celebrates the Launch of its 25th Issue

                                                              DLA, Agra, 1 January, 2014

varjkZ"Vªh; vaxzsth 'kks/k if=dk fj&ekfdZaXl us tuojh 2014 ds fo’ks"k vad ds :Ik esa yxkrkj iphlosa vad ds izdk'ku dk xkSjo izkIr fd;kA O;olkf;drk ds bl ;qx esa brus o"kksZa rd fcuk fdlh O;o/kku ds fu;r le; ij lkfgfR;d 'kks/k if=dk dk izdk'ku fdlh vtwcs ls de ughaA if=dk ds iphlosa vad ds izdk'ku ij fo'o ds lqizfl) lkfgR;dkjksa] i=dkjksa] leh{kdksa rFkk cqf)thfo;ksa us if=dk ds iz/kku laiknd rFkk izdk'kd vkxjk dkWyst] vkxjk ds vaxzsth foHkkxk/;{k MkW- fuchj ds ?kks"k dks if=dk ds izLrqr vad esa izdkf'kr ys[kksa ds ek/;e ls lk/kqokn rFkk 'kqHkdkeuk,a izsf"kr dhaA lksuksek LVsV ;wuhoflZVh] dsyhQksfuZ;k ds izksQslj rFkk iz[;kr jpukdkj tksUgk jfLdu us fy[kk gS fd eSa fj&ekfdZaXl ds fy, fujarj fy[krk gw¡ D;ksafd ;g eq>s ,d ,sls lkfgfR;d leqnk; ls tksM+rh gS tks dsyhQksfuZ;k ls yxHkx vk/kh nqfu;k dh nwjh ij gSA eSa blds }kjk lkfgfR;d oSf’od leqnk; ds lkFk&lkFk Hkkjr ls Hkh lkaLÑfrd laca/k tksM+uk pkgrk gw¡A fj&ekfdZaXl esjh izeq[k lkfgfR;d thoujs[kk gSA eSa MkW- ,u ds ?kks"k dks yxkrkj iphlosa vad rd ekSfyd ,oa mRÑ"V jpuk,a izdkf’kr djus gsrq lk/kqokn nsrk gw¡A brus o"kksZa rd fdlh ’kks/k if=dk dk fu;fer izdk’ku cgqr dfBu dk;Z gSA xkafc;k ds izeq[k dfo ,oa oYMZ cSad ds vf/kdkjh rhtku ,e lkykg dk dguk gS fd fj&ekfdZaXl tSlh varjkZ"Vªh; 'kks/k if=dk ds dkj.k fo'o cgqr NksVk izrhr gksrk gSA eq>s fj&ekfdZaXl ’kkafr ,oa lkekftd U;k; ls tqM+s eqn~nksa dks vius i`"Bksa ij mdsjus gsrq ladYic) fn[kkbZ nsrh gSA eSa dkeuk djrk gw¡ fd fj&ekfdZaXl vxys iPphl o"kksZa rd blh [kwclwjrh ds lkFk izdkf’kr gksrh jgsA us’kuy ;wuhoflZVh flaxkiqj ds okWYVj fye us fy[kk gS fd eSa MkW- ?kks"k dh usr`Ro {kerk ,oa nwjn`f"V dh iz’kalk djrk gw¡] ftUgksaus nf{k.k ,f’k;kbZ lkfgR; rd lhfer u jgdj oS’ohÑr lalkj esa varjkZ"Vªh; laca/kksa dks izkFkfedrk nh gSA ,Ýhdu vesfjdu fjlkslZ lsaVj] okWf’kaxVu ds ps;jeSu bZFkycVZ feyj us vius CykWx ij dh gS fd bl if=dk ds }kjk ,d ckj fQj iwoZ if’Pke ls feyk gS vkSj ifj.kke dsoy lkfgfR;d&lkaLÑfrd fofue; gh ugha cfYd thus ds fy, csgrj ekufld O;k;ke miyC/k djkuk gSA jSou ’kkW fo’ofon~;ky;] dVd ds izksQslj ts-,u-iVuk;d dk ekuuk gS fd brus o"kksZa rd bl if=dk dk fujarj ekpZ rFkk flracj esa le; ij izdkf’kr gksuk vn~Hkqr gSA tc rd MkW- ?kks"k laikndh; fy[krs jgsaxs rc rd eSa fj&ekfdZaXl dh lnL;rk dk eksg ugha NksM+ ldw¡xkA orZeku nkSj esa tgk¡ ’kks/kdk;Z ,d O;olk; cu pqdk gS] ogk¡ xq.koRrk ls dksbZ le>kSrk u djus okyh fj&ekfdZaXl tSlh if=dkvksa dh furkar vko’;drk gSA  

Nibir K. Ghosh with Jonah Raskin
Global Community & Cultural Connections
Jonah Raskin
I do not remember how long I have known Nibir Ghosh or how long I have written for Re-Markings, though I do remember meeting the editor in California on a lovely summer day. We spent a pleasant afternoon together. I met his wife. We had something to drink. We enjoyed the view. I had no expectation that our brief rendezvous would lead to what I consider a productive literary relationship. I know that it has been good for me. I hope that it has been good for Re-Markings. It must be because Nibir invites me to write for the journal and publishes what I write, too. My connection to the journal is personal. I don’t think that I would go on writing for it year after year if I did not know Nibir and respect his work. I probably wouldn’t write for it if it were published in, say, Seattle, Washington, or Orlando, Florida. I write for it because it’s published in India and printed in India, and because most of its contributors are Indians. Writing for Re-Markings gives me the feeling that I am part of a literary community that is halfway around the world from where I live in California. This is important to me. To fully explain why I would probably have to tell the story of my life and times. Suffice it to say that I want to be part of a global community and to have cultural connections to India.
Re-Markings is one of my major literary lifelines. Writing for the journal keeps me connected to Nibir and it gives me the sense that I’m connected to readers, teachers, and writers in India. I understand how difficult it is to be an editor. It has enabled me to appreciate Nibir Ghosh’s role as editor of Re-Markings which is now celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary -- a long time for a journal to go on publishing creative, brilliant and original articles. Bravo Re-Markings. Kudos to Nibir Ghosh and everyone else who contributes. I extend my hand in greetings and celebration.
  • Jonah Raskin serves on the advisory board of Re-Markings and is a regular contributor. Chair of the Communication Studies Department at Sonoma State University, California, U.S.A., he is the author and editor of books about Jack London, Allen Ginsberg, and the literature of the British Empire. 

Celebrating  Cross-cultural Conversations
Tijan M. Sallah
I am a latecomer in my association with the journal, Re-Markings, but I see much to admire in its intellectually vibrant pages and much to be hopeful about in valuable efforts to foster global scholarly and intellectual conversations on culture, politics and the new literatures in English. With its twenty-fifth issue, Re-Markings  can claim to be a confident establishment, comfortable in its roots and its ambitions. I see great promise in Re-Markings – in the ideas of peace and social justice through literary discourses that are flowing through its pages—and in the wonderful platform it is providing for the world's literati and thinkers to converse with one another about their literatures and cultures, and the underlying connections. The world is one – this is even more obvious when one considers the earth from a cosmic perspective. It has become closer with cross-border technology and information flows. Distances are being compressed by technology. Cultures, long separated by the hindrances of geography, are now meeting and speaking with other, and in that conversation are finding a common denominator – the amazing similarity and humanity between them. The world has become closer because journals such as Re-Markings are helping that happen. I wish Re-Markings  another 25 years of success. May it continue to be more vibrant as we age. 
  • Dr. Tijan M. Sallah is Gambian poet, writer and biographer. An economist by training, he has taught economics at several American universities before joining the World Bank, where he manages the agriculture, irrigation and rural development program for East African countries.
Creating A One-world Atmosphere
James R. Giles
I have had the privilege of publishing criticism and fiction Re-Markings over the years.  The experience has been pleasant and rewarding in each case. The submission process has been thoroughly professional, and the appearance of my materials in the journal has been clean and attractive. I am grateful for my association with such a diverse and important international journal.  I have profited from looking over the other materials in the issues of the journal in which I have been fortunate enough to appear.  The critical essays have been consistently provocative and informative and the creative pieces fascinating. Mr. Ghosh is a talented and energetic editor devoted to making               Re-Markings a wide-ranging and challenging journal. I congratulate    Re-Markings on its anniversary issue and look forward to its future contributions to the scholarly and creative communities. It is the kind of publication that truly creates a one-world atmosphere.
  • Dr. James R. Giles is Presidential Teaching Professor of English at Northern Illinois University, U.S.A.
Beyond Canonical Boundaries
Walter S.H. Lim
With the launch of Re-Markings' 25th celebratory issue, I wish to congratulate Dr. Nibir Ghosh for his leadership and vision in anchoring an important journal in South Asia that deals not only with local and Asian literary and sociocultural matters but also with international cultural relations in a globalized world.  While Re-Markings identifies New Literatures in English as its special area of emphasis, indicating the journal's instinct to move beyond the boundaries of the canonical, its ecumenical spirit is evident in its coverage of subject matter as diverse as American literature, comparative diasporic literature, and the topicality of the Nobel prize for literature.  I recall well my involvement with Re-Markings through Dr. Ghosh's invitation for me to contribute articles on Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Li-Young Lee, two first-generation Chinese American authors from Southeast Asia, and on the award of the Nobel literature prize to Mo Yan.  As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century and become part of an inescapably interconnected world, we find ourselves also at a historical moment in which valorizations of nation-centered literatures are questioned by writings that embrace hybridity, internationalism, and the breakdown of compartmentalization. It strikes me that Re-Markings' openness to the implications of transnational literary production and cultural interactions positions it as a journal of deep relevance for those of us who embrace the idea of the importance of world literatures.             Re-Markings will continue to resonate in the twenty-first century.  
  • Dr. Walter S.H. Lim is an Associate Professor of English Literature at the National University of Singapore. 

Voice of  Vibrant Democratic Participation
Jane Schukoske
Congratulations to Chief Editor Dr. Nibir K. Ghosh, Editor A. Karunaker, Executive Editor Sundeep Arora, and the editorial staff, advisors, contributors, readers and other supporters on the publication of the 25th issue of the journal Re-Markings, a forum for cross-cultural literary analysis, creative writing, review and other features. As a refereed journal, Re-Markings sets a high standard for its authors and provides consistently high quality to its readers. In India and abroad, this journal promotes reflection and intellectual engagement with others.
Facing rapid changes in how and with whom we communicate, we can appreciate and model the contribution of writing to the making of meaning and to the understanding of others. Literary analysis provides a vehicle for examining the meaning of stories in their social and political context. Such analysis is of growing importance in our plural societies in which we encounter so many stories and contexts.
Re-Markings engenders cross-cultural dialogue that promotes mutual understanding. This value of the Fulbright exchange program remains relevant since its inception in India in 1950. Inviting colleagues to seriously engage with academic policy debate, Dr. Ghosh often writes Re-Markings’ editorials that situate the volume within the context of timely institutional issues. These include the interpretation of academic freedom and the need for inclusion in curriculum of the many voices of vibrant democratic participation. The journal thus celebrates not only literary analysis and creative writing, but also the challenges of teaching about literature and the values it conveys.
There is something delightfully fresh about Re-Markings. After I read my issue, I always have the urge to write. I send my sincere hope and best wishes for a long life of the journal!
  • Jane Schukoske, former faculty, University of Baltimore School of Law, served as Executive Director of U.S. Educational Foundation in India, New Delhi. She currently is CEO of S.M. Sehgal Foundation, Gurgaon, Haryana.

Nibir K. Ghosh at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, America's National Cultural Center, at Washington, DC,  with participants from all over the world at the International Fulbrighters conference

Cultural Blueprints and  Better Architecture for Living
E. Ethelbert Miller
Many years ago I wrote about the importance of a common language holding people together. The heart does not need to pursue translation - it only needs to love. There are no borders or boundaries when a poem is read. I think what Nibir Ghosh has done with the journal Re-Markings over the years is the equivalent of providing us with cultural blueprints. Any discussion of literature should remind us that we are human and have the capacity to do good in the world. I was happy to contribute a few words about the novelist Chinua Achebe in a recent issue of Re-Markings. It was Achebe who taught us that "all the stories are true." The work Nibir has been doing with Re-Markings over the years explores this idea. Literary criticism serves as an overcoat protecting one from the rain of ignorance. Magazines build community. India has always been at the center of world culture. In Re-Markings east once again meets west. The result is not just intellectual cultural exchange but the establishment of a better architecture for living. 
  • E. Ethelbert Miller is Board Chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C.) and the director of the African American Resource Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Creating Literary Camaraderie
Anisur Rehman
The act of bringing out a journal is not a random act if one knows what one wishes to do and how. When Dr. Nibir K. Ghosh initiated his project he knew as much. His editorial in the first issue of Re-Markings (Vol. 1, No. 1, March 2002) spelt out his aim in unambiguous terms: “The avowed purpose of the present endeavour is to create a climate of opinion congenial to critical inquiry and intellectual debate.” I understand Dr. Ghosh made his choice with good discretion and with better reason in order to achieve the best that he could.
In India, academic journals have had their short and long lives and have served short-term and long-term purposes, but none has stood the test of years like Re-Markings, and none has survived the trials of editorship like Dr. Ghosh. Over a decade, this journal has emerged as a forum for socio-literary exchanges.
Re-Markings is now a formidable mehfil of writers, critics, commentators, reviewers, and readers—all brought together in the true spirit of companionship. During all these years, I have seen the scholars growing with the growth of this journal and I have seen them making way for the new ones to join. As I have watched this, I have also wondered if there was something special that kept them together. I did not have to strive hard for an answer; it lay in their striving to grow with each other to create what I should like to call a literary camaraderie deserving certain respect. While Re-Markings gave them a platform, they found their mooring and all of them, together, made a cumulative impact in the domains of literature, society, art, and culture that every generation, and every age, strives to build in its own inimitable way.
My association with Re-Markings has two facets: academic and personal. I made my tiny contributions now and then but when I look back while writing these lines I realise how little have I really delivered between then and now. I wish I could do more.
  • Dr. Anisur Rahman is Professor of English at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Hope of Redemption
Jitendra Narayan Patnaik
Unlike scores of Indian literary journals which are regularly irregular in terms of the periodicity of publication or which die down after a few issues or turn into business houses that facilitate smooth passage through the corridors of Ph.D industry, Re-Markings comes out without fail in March and September every year, is marching gloriously into its silver jubilee number and is ruthlessly scrupulous about the quality of articles selected for publication. Kudos to Nibir and his team for making all this possible. Journals like Re-Markings do offer some hope of redemption from the depressingly poor quality of research and teaching in most of the institutions of higher education in India.
  • Dr. Jitendra Narayan Patnaik is UGC Emeritus Fellow, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack (Orissa).
25th Issue Re-markings