Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Two Bits of Good News, and A Request for Advice

1. We're moving out of New Jersey, and back to the Philly area.

S. got an internal transfer to her company's King of Prussia office, which is a huge relief: King of Prussia is much closer to Lehigh than Melville, NY. Her commute will be cut by like 95% -- no more George Washington Bridge, Cross-Bronx Expressway, or LIE -- and mine will be cut by about a quarter. That 15-20 minutes each way on my end might not sound like much, but 40 minutes a day does add up.

So we're moving in stages in the next few weeks. It's a huge amount of work, and this is a pretty bad time to have to do it. But the long-term benefits are myriad: more time to socialize, more time for exercise, the possibility of buying a house (ulp!), as well as an overall sense of normality that is lacking when you spend all your time in the car.

2. Book news. This actually happened about two months ago -- I got a contract for my academic book, Literary Secularism: Religion and Modernity in England, Ireland, and India. It's with a small British scholarly press whose name I won't give (bad luck), though I can say it's neither OUP nor CUP. The details of the print run and so on haven't been worked out yet -- I have to turn in the manuscript first -- but we'll probably have more news on that front next summer.

3. Blog posts --> essays? There are a few long blog posts I've put up in recent months that I'd like to try and convert into publishable essays, and I wonder if readers might have favorites or suggestions from among the following:

Language issues: some combination of H. Hatterr, and the Indian English posts, and maybe also the Balderdash post. That I need to write some kind of essay on this is really a no-brainer. The question is how to take it from the realm of language-play (where my blog posts are) to some kind of serious point about the function of Indian English (or slangs and dialects in general) in literature.

Orhan Pamuk, Turkish Secularism, Theater.... I really liked some of the ideas in this post, though it didn't get a lot of response from people at the time I posted it. There's so much going on in Pamuk's novel that this could easily be extended to 15-20 pages. But I don't know a lick of Turkish, and most academics avoid trying to publish on writing in translation when they don't know the original language, because any close attention to a writer's language is rendered pointless. But I wonder if that rule could be broken?

Rethinking Postcolonial Theory. This is almost an academic essay already, and I'm most definitely going to rework it. The question is whether it's my first priority.

So if you were me, which would you be most excited to pursue? Are there other posts you've seen me post here (or at Sepia Mutiny or the Valve) that seem like they could be starting points for longer essays? Philip Roth? Rumpelstiltskin? Others?

(Note: you obviously don't need to be an academic or a literature person to weigh in on this -- that's the beauty of the blog world. There's no such thing as "qualifications," only good ideas and arguments...)


Rani said...

First of all, congrats on the book. That's so cool. You're on your way to tenure!

Secondly, congrats on the move. The Philly area is so nice - I'd definitely think about moving there someday - and I am sure you and S. will enjoy the city, and your commutes, so much more.

Thirdly, I *LOVE* your posts on language. I definitely think there is something there in terms of 'saying something' about Indian English. Maybe you could tie some of your Bollywood knowledge into the essay :).

(As for your suggestion to x-post a review of 'Maps for Lost Lovers' on your blog, well, I *blush*. Your blog is one of my favorites on the web, probably because we have so many similar interests. I do review books here and there, however, since I haven't read either of Aslam's titles, and only recently heard of his work, I definitely feel inadequate to write something about his second novel. However, once I get a chance to read both his works and process them, I will surely let you know.)

12:50 PM  
masale.wallah said...

Hi Doc,

Congrats on your first book! Hope that you go one to publish many many more..

P.S. Is your tenure review coming up? I ask, apropos the earlier post.

1:49 PM  
Amardeep said...

Rani, thanks!

Masale wallah, no comment!

1:51 PM  
Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

Taking you up on your suggestion that complete outsiders could comment on this (which sounds fairly brave to a scientist). I'd love to read about Indian English in the larger context of India. I am pretty convinced Bengali short story and essay is a consequence of people like Bankimchandra reading de Quincey and so on. It'd be nice to see some who actually knows something write about this. On this it seems to me like this might be the one substantive thing in Amartya Sen's Argumentative Indian book. And on that note, I again would love to read you write about the diaspora wagging the Bollywood. This is again something I am convinced of. And this is actually something I find pretty detrimental to Indian cinema. There was a strong independant "art" cinema that was growing in India in the 80's and even early 90's that has essentially dissappeared. To the point that it is as hard to find experimental movies in India as it is here. I pine for the old government funded art pieces of yore.

2:09 PM  
badmash said...

Amardeep, congrats on the book deal! I'll set aside tomorrow evening to read through some of my favs and write back. Good luck with the move (and remember, lift with the knees, not the back!)

5:43 PM  
Anne said...

The H. Hatterr seems really exciting and fresh to me. I loved that section of the stacks in grad school but couldn't finish--or really even start--Hatterr. (Read and loved Conversations in Bloomsbury, a MUCH lighter read a few books down....)

Anyway, very happy, too for all your good news: book and minimal commute--two very good things! Bravo!

8:21 PM  
Roopsi said...

Congrats on all the exciting news!

I vote for "Rethinking Postcolonial Theory" for obviously selfish reasons (i.e. I might want to use it later).

8:39 PM  
Anand said...

Great news on the book front. Congrats!

9:40 PM  
vk said...

Hi Deep,
That's great news. Please let us know when it gets out, I would like to have a copy.

10:17 PM  
Jasmeet said...

Hi Deep,

many congrats on the book ... Hoping to catch a signed copy ... :) .. great news abt the move ... convey my regards to S. .. And yeah, time to finally get some stuff from blog into print ... my best wishes r with u ..

11:32 PM  
Mendi O. said...

Hey Deep, that's wonderful! Congratulations! Sorry you'll be leaving the area before we got a chance to hang out.

2:18 AM  
uma said...

congrats on all the good news! looking forward to the book..

2:43 AM  
Sunil said...

congrats on the book deal....

and for the essays.....i think a combination of the Hatter/indian english would be great for starters...:-)

1:56 PM  
Kerim Friedman said...

Congrats on the book! And the move. I'll think about what posts might be good articles. I remember liking your post on Theory's Empire and your one on memos as a literary genre.

6:36 PM  
Ph said...

The language issue essays always interest me. So I am leaning towards those. The postcolonial theory is already almost written like you say. But frankly my eyes do glaze over with all the material floating around. The Orhan Pamuk essay would be so good, but I see your reservations.

7:30 PM  
Mrudula said...

Congratulations on the book. A combination of H. Hatterr, English Language and the Balderdash posts should be interesting.

1:59 AM  
elizabeth said...

Congratulations on the good news, and I think an extended essay on the language-play material (which is what led me to this blog) would rock. If you do wish to go ahead with the Pamuk essay and would like to check source material/quotes with someone, I'm happy to help (my Turkish is not fluent, but I read well). Better yet, I could put you in touch with a number of Turkish lit scholars (mostly here in Istanbul, but a few in the States) if you want advice from them--though I should warn that not all are big fans of Pamuk, esp. that particular novel. While your reservations about the language issue make sense, I think you could still explore the ideas in the book without necessarily reading it in the original (and incidentally, if you know Hindi/Urdu, you do know a lick of Turkish--not much more than a lick, but there's a surprising amount of shared vocab/loan-words.) Now, here's my disciplinary bias showing--I would suggest some background reading on the political/social context of Turkey in the 1990s, background on the Kurdish issue, Kemalist secularism, etc. A lot of reviews of that novel in the UK/US press missed or misinterpreted some of the content, in part due to a lack of grounding in the profound weirdness of Turkish politics.

Also, Pamuk's speech at the Frankfurt book fair has just been published in English, and it is very much worth reading:


6:53 AM  
Amardeep said...


Thanks for the suggestions and the offer to help. If I did ask, it would probably be quite minimal in scope -- probably with references to a couple of specific passages.

I do have a little knowledge of the crisis in Turkish state secularism in the 1990s, from Yael Navaro-Yashin's book "Faces of the State" (though she is more theoretical than explanatory). I've also poked at the history in the work of people like Bruce Lawrence and Nikki Keddie a bit. Are there other scholars you might recommend?

Everyone else who's written in, thank you! I appreciate the support, and it's nice to see some friendly faces (and indeed, family members) coming out of the woodwork...

8:16 AM  
badmash said...

Amardeep - suggestions if I may:

I wonder if some of your reviews can be woven together into extended pieces. I really liked your reviews of Indian writers Ghosh, Suketu Mehta - there some common strains between these writers and Vikram Seth isn't there (sort of like "fictional" history and historical fiction). Your film reviews are also great. Why not string them together into the basis for an extended piece as well since there is so much interest re: Bollywood?

The Tagore in America piece was your first for Sepia Mutiny and I must admit, still a favourite. Again, might be worth exploring into a longer essay?
There's so much of value there re: the Indian community in N America pre-1965.

Very much liked your Orwell essays.

Your most provocative and challenging pieces are those under politics/ secularism. I loved your Hanif Kureshi piece and the piece on Wendy Doniger. Also the Berman/Fukuyama pieces.

For the sake of people not entirely familiar with writers/intellectuals like Sanjay Subrahmanyam and Pankaj Mishra, would they merit an introductory essay?

I'm afriad the postcolonialism piece was a bit over my head - although it was very informative. I'll need to chew over a bit more before I can make a comment/suggestion.

10:10 PM  
jagmohan said...

Deep dear,
Congrats! First the contract for Literary Secularism: Religion and Modernity in England, Ireland, and India & now the move. Both long awaited. Just shows your efforts are getting rewarded - as they should! Keep it up! Cheers! Best wishes to you & S.

8:16 PM  
Ms. World said...

congrats on the book & the move to Philly!

6:54 AM  

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