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For all the latest Entertainment News download shlf1314n Express App More Related NewsWritten by Amrita Dutta | New Delhi | Published: August 30 2015 2:30 am Author Anjum Hasan Top News Every day thousands make the journey that has come to define contemporary shlf1314 from small town to big city from the mofussil to the metropolis The exoduses add up to economic growth and social change but they also birth a new modernity Anjum Hasan’s fiction inhabits these city limits Her characters are people uncomfortable in the swim of the big city caught often between nostalgia and self-discovery “Being a modern shlf1314n is hard work” says a character in her new novel The Cosmopolitans She explores the texture of this urban experience — now so commonplace as to be banal — and makes it anew “Isn’t that where modern fiction begins — with the conflicted individual against a dark urban backdrop And not just backdrop in a Dickensian sense but also something that you engage with directly — that fascinates and repels you Many of the American novelists I admire such as Saul Bellow or Scott Fitzgerald have this tremendous feeling for the city as do the newer American or part American writers I’ve read such as Junot Diaz or HM Naqvi” says the 43-year-old Bangalore-based author in an email interview While her first novel Lunatic in My Head was a lyrical immersive account of life in Shillong through three characters her second Neti Neti was about Sophie a young woman in Bangalore who is neither at ease in the hometown she has left behind nor the big city where she finds herself adrift The Cosmopolitans was seeded as she began to think about “how there are different ways of being modern in shlf1314 today” “Some are antiquated but still in existence even if marginally such as the Nehruvian nation-building mode or a certain kind of ordinary modernist architecture Others such as experimental contemporary art have greater currency My attempt in the novel was to bring some of these different cosmopolitanisms in conversation with each other” she says That conversation happens via Qayenaat the protagonist of The Cosmopolitans the daughter of an engineer father who had worked on Nehru’s “temples of modern shlf1314” Qayenaat is a character rarely found in the pages of shlf1314n English fiction: she is 53 and a woman but she is not weighed down by family or domesticity her marriage is long over but she is hardly tormented by it She has made for herself an unusual life outside the obligations of the 9-to-5 grid She is a rasika a lover of art with a rich inner life and a gnawing angst at being left behind in a world running on money Hasan points out that her characters have always “been unconventional” “They are not wildly radical They are middle class people with fairly humdrum lives At the same time they all have some kind of antecedents They are partly conflicted about where they come from and they are partly happy to break free of it Their energies are not so much spent in trying to fight an arranged marriage or the oppressive husband that seems to define middle-class fiction in English In that sense Qayenaat is already liberated she has always decided what she wants to do with her life For her the question is: how does she use the liberty to give meaning to her life” If it is difficult to pin Qayenaat down to categories so does The Cosmopolitans resist summing up It is about how “art rubs up against the larger world — money greed violence poverty” as well as about freedom of speech consumerism state violence and social conflicts But Hasan’s skill lies in creating something intimate personal and funny with ideas that seem at home with the sonorous writing of oped pages “Sometimes these questions become very academic and I wanted to scale it down to the level of the personal and the tangible [For instance] the Nehruvian is certainly one of the most interesting ways of being modern But it is not just about building dams or socialism it is in the sense of the house that Qayenaat’s father has built the way he interacted with neighbours the way he negotiates cities every time he was transferred all of these things is a part of the Nehruvian outlook To me there is poetry in it in this way of existing and negotiating life” she says For all its intellectual heft this is also a laugh-out-loud novel nimble on its feet and quick-witted While Hasan’s writing is often noted for its lyricism she also has an eye for the absurd and a sardonic gaze with which she whittles down the drama and delusions of life “The greatest writers are both funny and compelling and the two are closely connected: RK Narayan is always funny so are Salman Rushdie Kiran Nagarkar To me the best novel is very sharp-witted and aware that one of the best ways to tell a story is to see the wit and humour” she says In The Cosmopolitans the wit is also a way cut through the clutter “How do I write about contemporary society without sounding like I am rehashing what the reader already knows That newness comes partly making it a story of people and partly from seeing the extreme irony of it That ironic space is where the humour comes from — that’s very important to me that is what makes it a novel” she says Hasan was 26 when she made the journey from Shillong to Bangalore in search of a job It is a city she lovingly created in her first novel and in Street on the Hill a collection of poetry published in 2006 “I grew up in a fairly bookish household so wanting to be a writer was always there and not something that I ever articulated to myself as a specific ambition” she says She started writing when she was quite young “I remember writing poems when I was seven and showing them to my parents who were not impressed Neither were they holding it up to any standard of what a poem should be They didn’t make a fuss about it” she says She came to fiction much later publishing poetry for 10-odd years till Lunatic on My Head burst on to the page demanding to be written While Shillong has recurred in her earlier works it is not something she wishes would define her work “The Cosmopolitans does not go anywhere near it thankfully Shillong is a continuing obsession though Places that we’ve grown up in can acquire sometimes a mythical quality and that’s what I keep going back to it for to try and dig into that source” she says As a writer she is drawn to the multifarious nature of cities “It’s an instinct that doesn’t allow me to take the environment for granted but try and recreate it on the page It could be because I don’t comfortably belong to any one place but I’d like to think that it’s also a writerly impulse Orhan Pamuk has lived in Istanbul most of his life and yet was able to make a fantastic literary monument out of it in his case perhaps because he was such a rooted native” At the heart of her fiction though is the individual whose stories and quests allow her to place her fiction at an angle to the conventional and the established to the powerful heaving forces that shape society “Most of my fiction writing has been about whether the individual has the freedom to make up her own mind and her own choices If there is a politics it is in that — in the individual experience and the individual point of view and the need for space for that — away from family conventions morality That to me is the most important that is what my characters are searching for All my characters have to create themselves through the novel” she says As critic and books editor of The Caravan Hasan’s essays on shlf1314n literature are marked by a dispassionate gaze and come loaded with formidable insight into writing and its place in contemporary culture “I am more and more interested in what shlf1314n writing is what has gone into making it and what people are writing about now I am sure that it shapes my fiction writing but I am not sure how I am not necessarily moulding my writing after anyone I feel like I am trying to forge my own path For me it’s all part of the same project: the reading the writing the writing about the reading They all seem connected” For all the latest Lifestyle News download shlf1314n Express App More Top News and hospitality they offered me ?

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