Three of my poems “At Rajiv Chowk Metro Station,” “Khas Pidgin” and “Foreign Tongue” appear in the latest Sage issue of Coldnoon, an international journal of travel writing & traveling cultures. These poems are part of my debut collection, Khas Pidgin.
I think I wrote the poem “Khas Pidgin” in 2009, and “Foreign Tongue” in 2014? I am certain that I wrote “At Rajiv Chowk Metro Station” in 2014, because I have these notes for the poem written for a poetry-challenged friend the same year:
While waiting for the train at Rajiv Chowk, I was reading Amit Chaudhuri’s essay titled “Beyond ‘Confidence’: Rushdie and the Creation Myth of Indian writing in English” from his collection Clearing House.
He writes that there was Indian writing in English before Rushdie, a fact that the arriviste India seems to have forgotten. He concludes:
That’s why Indian writing, in the last one hundred and fifty years, represents not so much a one-dimensional struggle for, or embodiment, power, as a many-sided cosmopolitan. It isn’t enough, today, to celebrate Indian writing’s ‘success,’ after having identified what its marks of success are (as if the whole tradition must only, and constantly, be thought of as an arriviste would be); one needs to engage with its long, subterranean history (as hard-earned as political freedom itself) of curiosity and openness.
When I closed the book and lifted my eyes, they caught a brief but warm reflection of a face on the glass door of the metro. I thought it was mine, but I can’t be certain now.
The Indian writing in English is a blob and its seeming triumph, perhaps a brief rupture in what the western critics (dust and chatter) consider their canon (text).
And Indian writers (brown light) writing in English can’t be blamed for not knowing exactly who they are writing for (and the question is irrelevant, Chauduri argues)—they are faceless dots in the literary world, the mirror of their times.
“The Battles for Justice: No Country for Women” is an illustrated dispatch from India on the women’s struggle for justice from the times of the epic Mahabharata to the rise of a Hindu government and god-men in India. It’s a personal and complicated reaction to the rare conviction of a god-man, who sexually exploited women with impunity for more than fifteen years, and had armed goons, policemen and politicians in his pocket. His conviction resulted in the death of 38 people. In 14 black and white pages, “The Battles for Justice: No Country for Women” illustrates the nation’s complex feelings about what the judgment, and the subsequent unrest and killings, mean for the women’s struggle for justice.
Our Gumroad bundle contains digital edition in three formats: Kindle (mobi), Android & iBooks (epub), and comic book (pdf): http://gumroad.com/battlesforjustice. Also available to purchase at Amazon and Smashwords.
Paperback available to order from Amazon POD.
Illustrated by Anju Shah, the newly redesigned and updated edition of “The Story of India’s Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan” is now available on Amazon and Smashwords. You can order the new gorgeous edition as a digital bundle in three formats (epub, mobi & pdf) from Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/l/partition (Recommended!)
Paperback available to order from Amazon POD. (We’re looking for mass-market publishers in India and UK to print and distribute this book so that it becomes more affordable and accessible. If you know someone, hope you’ll pass on the link. Gracias!)
On July 8, 1947, Cyril Radcliffe arrived in India for the first time. He had five weeks and four judges to settle the boundary between the newly independent India and a newborn state of Pakistan. After drawing the “ Radcliffe Line,” the British officer burnt his papers, refused his fee, and left the wounded continent never to set foot on it again. Based on W.H. Auden’s famous poem, “Partition,” this is an illustrated account of the man who oversaw the controversial border settlement which left one million dead and twelve million homeless and permanently displaced.
I’m fielding this question a lot these days: When is Mithila Review going to open submissions again? I think there is no way of answering this question without addressing the elephant in the room: Why have we closed submissions?
1. We’re severely underfunded: http://patreon.com/mithilareview
I can no longer accept work for free without feeling that I’m stealing work and its potential value from our contributors. As an editor and publisher, I know I’m failing to do my job if I can’t pay for the blood, sweat and tears that go into creation of critical and significant works of art, poetry or fiction.
If we meet our Patreon goal, I’ll open submissions soon enough. I want Mithila to be able to acquire and publish the best of speculative fiction and poetry from around the world. If we’re publishing the best work, we need to pay the best rates. If we can’t do that, I don’t think we can attract, nurture or support the best of new and emerging voices in the field.
2. Time is in short supply
Even before we founded Mithila Review in 2015, I’ve had been spending hundreds of hours reading the most diverse SF that I could find online not purely for the sake of pleasure. I’m a young writer, designer, and filmmaker, who grew up in Kathmandu, and lives in New Delhi, with very little exposure to the world of science fiction and fantasy. It took me significant chunks of time, focus and hard work to achieve a few publication credits under my belt, and that meant total concentration. Like my fellow writers, I’ve been doing ten thousand things to be able to find a way to support myself in order to find the time to read and write and film. One of the reasons for doing Mithila Review was to create an opportunity for myself to immerse deeply in the world of science fiction and fantasy. And immerse I did!
After establishing Mithila, I began reading what I would have never read otherwise: the slush pile. It’s not a part of the publishing job that anybody wants—but I’ve been reading and replying to submissions for two years now with occasional help from our coeditors.
So what’s my job like? I select and edit content, design and publish each issue, and it takes hundreds of hours. The running cost of Mithila Review is significant—I don’t know how to compromise on quality of what we publish, and it takes me away from many income-generating opportunities.
When I started Mithila Review, there was no English-language publication devoted to international science fiction and fantasy from around the world in South Asia. Today Mithila Review is the only Asian publication in English devoted to SF/F/H, if my understanding of the market is correct. Mithila Review is probably the first publication based out of India to be funded in part through Patreon. I’m extremely reluctant to consider Mithila Review an Indian or South Asian publication because over 90 percent of our readers, contributors and patrons come from America and Europe. It’s no wonder then that we’ve hardly received any outside support for our endeavors in this region except from a small pool of dedicated readers and writers.
Honestly, I do not think it’s possible for anyone to build a quality publication without significant investment. I have done well thanks to the support of family and our generous contributors, and the magazine now has a small but critical pool of patrons, but that’s not how things used to be for me financially before I got seriously involved with science fiction and fantasy. Financially-speaking, Mithila Review has been a disaster. At a tremendous personal cost, I have been able to build a platform that many people could but didn’t because it didn’t make financial sense to any one of them. Every issue of Mithila Review is available to read online, and any profit-hungry entrepreneur would not see any financial benefit in such an open project.
As you must have known by now, I’ve never been driven by financial interest. As a result, I’ve struggled to figure out ways to combine my burning passion for literature and cinema with the urgent need to make it self-sustainable. Until I can make this happen, please consider supporting this literary endeavor and help keep Mithila Review open and alive with your contribution. Help me bring the best of speculative fiction, poetry and cinema to your world.
As always, I’m counting on your support.
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