Saturday, February 22, 2003

"Conrad's presentation of me is my problem and I have a responsibility to deal with it, you understand?" I nod. "I don't come from a 'half-made' society as your 'friend' Naipaul would say. We're not 'half-made' people, we're a very old people. We've seen lots of problems in the past. We've dealt with these problems in Africa, and we're older than the problems. Drought, famine, disease, this is not the first time that we're dealing with these things in Africa."

-- Caryl Phillips discusses Heart of Darkness with Chinua Achebe in this weekend's Guardian Review.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

The Stabroek News website has been down for a couple of days, but today's Chronicle reports the winners of the 2002 Guyana Prize for Literature, announced at a ceremony on Sunday.

Michael Gilkes has won the poetry prize for his book Joanstown (helpfully described by the Chronicle's writer as "a series of love poems to Georgetown and someone named Joan"). There were no prizes for fiction or drama; "submissions this year did not measure up to the judges expectations".

The prize for the best first book of poetry went to Stanley Greaves, for Horizons; & Ruel Johnson's unpublished manuscript "Ariadne and Other Stories" was named best first book of fiction.

Also a "special prize" was announced for Guyana's most celebrated writer, Wilson Harris; it will be presented in a fortnight, when Harris will be paying his home country a visit.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The recent "debate" carried out in this newspaper between Nadira Naipaul and Tarun Vijay ... would have made for unadulterated hilarity were it not for the reality it obfuscated. Not unlike the obscenely choreographed WWE wrestling matches on TV, what ensued was farcical yet macabre.... What surfaces when you treat these two players not as opponents but as two heads of the same Ravan?

Ruchir Joshi, writing in today's Hindustan Times, takes on the Naipauls, Panchjanya editor Tarun Vijay, & the BJP-VHP-RSS, all at once.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

From our reading:

"Art matters not merely because it is the most magnificent ornament and the most nearly unfailing occupation of our lives, but because it is life itself. From Christ to Freud we have believed that, if we know the truth, the truth will set us free: art is indispensable because so much of this truth can be learned through works of art and through works of art alone — for which of us could have learned for himself what Proust and Chekhov, Hardy and Yeats and Rilke, Shakespeare and Homer learned for us? and in what other way could they have made us see the truths which they themselves saw, those differing and contradictory truths which seem nevertheless, to the mind which contains them, in some sense a single truth? And all these things, by their very nature, demand to be shared; if we are satisfied to know these things ourselves, and to look with superiority or indifference at those who do not have that knowledge, we have made a refusal that corrupts us as surely as anything can."

— Randall Jarrell, "The Obscurity of the Poet", in Poetry and the Age, p. 18 in the Faber Library edition.