Friday, August 22, 2014

The Son Also Rises

Via the always brilliant, the fabulous Mayank Tewari reports on the blinding rise of a dazzling talent in Hindi travel writing - a long neglected genre within the mainstream Hindi writing establishment - Anil Yadav's Wah Bhi Koi Des Hai Maharaj (वह भी कोई देस है महाराज (tr. (Is) That too a country my lord)). The article charts the cult status the work has suddenly attained and also the searing intensity of Yadav's writing. An excerpt from Mayank Tewari's article:
His second and most recent work, which came out last year, Wah Bhi Koi Desh Hai Maharaj (Is That Even a Country, My Lord!), an account of his travels in the North East in the early 2000s, has taken the Hindi literary scene by storm. Largely ignored by a Bollywood-obsessed media, the book is all the rage among the depleting mass of Hindi readers and is on its way to attaining cult status.

The 158-page book is the story of India’s most neglected region told by the narrative voice of a poor, petulant reporter. Anyone who doubts the power of Hindi must read it. 
Tewari compares Yadav's sincere, honest-no-holds-barred writing to David Foster Wallace and his manic dedication to nothing but literature to that of a character from Bolaño's oeuvre.
At 45, Yadav is angry in a healthy sort of way. Sequestered in a Himachal village, he is working on his first novel, which he hopes will be out in the middle of next year. He has a mobile phone, but no internet connectivity. "I don’t have to worry about anything here," he said. "All I do is write." 
Before dinner he has a drink. For the rest of the time, he writes, and reads. He comes across like a character from a Roberto Bolaño book, a reclusive writer with an untrained mind, someone like Hans Reiter from 2666. His soft voice, firm but not intimidating, betrayed no trace of the anger that sometimes burns on the pages of his writing. 

The excellent article also resurrected long forgotten memories of my own epic trip (taken along with many other friends from S'kal) to the same region, though (for reasons best not explicated) much of those wonderful memories died instantly along with the brain cells they were attached on to. If however, we ever write our memoirs of times in the NE, they'll be quite different from those of (the Lucknow based(!)) Anil Yadav who was masquerading as a Delhi journalist writing on the Bihari workers' killings taking place there. 

And so I did manage to hunt down some excerpts from the book at the ever-awesome where the book was being promoted in 2012 when it first came out. Those who want to read the passages from the book may do so here (part 1) and here (part 2). As Tewari correctly points out, the writing is real, hard-hitting, scorching and yet very funny - a rare combination indeed.

Which brings me to the last point regarding this wonderful development. Pandu, if you're reading this, then seriously...fuck you! When are you going to put your head down, get your ass to work and write the irreverent, morbid, funny, grotesque, convention-smashing book that we all have a right to read? And if you're incapable, let SatyaVrat take the center stage.

To fellow mortals - go read the article. To those who can read Hindi - go read the full book - as I intend to do!

Update: Here is an interview of Anil Yadav who doesn't disappoint at all in the refreshing honesty of his opinion.

1 comment:

ankurpandey said...

I do periodically check & pratilipi, in short & not-too-short periods resp., but this information comes as a surprise- thanks! Will buy asap.

And yes.. I depart for a 2 month Ladakh trip next week- hope the experience do the needful for the motivation.