Happy New Year dear Readers!
There is a sensory itch in my insides as the New Year begins. I wake up in a city still alien to me. My ambitions and plans climb taller with each day, but give nothing to help me scale them. More and more time is spent gazing, admiring, sparkling, than is spent documenting, writing, and working. Oh, the newness of moving continents, is surely a different high.
At my creative writing class last week, John Reed, my professor, and author of A Still Small Voice(2000), Snowball’s Chance (2002) and The Whole (2005), said something that I will always remember. He was talking about the difference between a commercial novel, and a literary novel (not that the two can’t overlap). And I have never been explained this better – In a commercial novel, the structure defines the story, and in a literary novel, the story defines the structure.
The structure therefore, of a commercial novel can be any one of the numerous ones studied and archived by writers all over the world – 3 acts structure, six point structure and so on. The easiest being the beginning, the middle, and the end. And if a story fits itself into this as it writes itself, it would broadly come under the bracket of commercial.
A literary novel on the other hand, writes the story, and either comes up with a new structure, that which the story seemed fit to, or seems to follow a pre-defined one that only matches to this by fluke. And most importantly, it doesn’t think of structure in the first place.
There is no saying that one form is better than another, which is definitely subjective. But it surely helps us understand as writers, what we are really doing with the book we are writing.
Coming to The Bombay Review, and the magazine at hand, I will update you briefly of what we have been doing and plan to do. As the Editor of TBR, I was recently invited to give a TEDx talk in Allahabad, India. The topic of my talk was – How we found a way to run an international literary magazine with no money, and I can sense your snort, but believe me when I say this, ‘We run this magazine with zero investment, and fueled on the passion and dedication of volunteers.’
At the Zeitgeist Media Conclave 2016, conducted by St. Xaviers college, I was a co-panelist along with the very interesting Fahad Shah, Editor-in-Chief of The Kashmirwalla, on a panel titled – Writing that strikes. I really enjoyed conversing with the many aspiring writers in both the places, and it was an honor to be a part of such events, that help spread word about literary initiatives.
We have received numerous applications for internships, and will be finalizing new members in the coming months. That brings me to a new project that The Bombay Review is undertaking this year.
For long, the two countries of India and Pakistan have showed cold backs to each other, when it comes to diplomacy, politics, and talks. But for equally long, the two have tried successfully, and positively to engage in mutual sharing of ideas on art, literature, film and music. Literary festivals welcome artists from across the border, music concerts host the greats of our time from across the border, films run to packed audiences across the border.
A lot is being said on the two countries’ intolerance, and the growing debate over it centers on one conclusion (that I, personally am favorable towards) – the governments are not doing what they can to foster a healthy relationship. For the average middle class person like me, I strongly believe that the people of our countries don’t just want peace, they want to share. Our countries are two nuclear armed nations, almost in a semi-state of war, and hopefully that day which I dread will never come.
There was a time when the culture of the two countries was one, the art was of the larger Indian subcontinent. Today, it has become and comes to be labelled as – theirs and ours. And we at The Bombay Review, want to do something about this. Our May-June issue will be a themed issue, on India and Pakistan. We don’t want to go the typical partition stories way, although that is not a complete no-no either, but we want stories from the two countries about everyday life, that will show the One culture, one history, and one people we have always had. That which was carved up in a piece of paper by Mr Mountbatten as he sat smoking a pipe in 1947.
To further our project, we would also be conducting two simultaneous literary events in both countries, with Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi as prospective cities on one side, and Mumbai, Delhi and Pune on the other. The events will happen at the same time, and on the same day. We strongly urge literary enthusiasts in both countries to help us.
Our issue this time is diverse with writers from India, France, United States, Philippines and Nigeria. We are publishing three prose pieces, five poetries and one haiku. Your feedback is always welcome, and much appreciated.
Lots of love,