The Year Gone By: 2006

Picture of the year: A Halloween Buddha (see note at end of the post)
The most significant book that one read this year was undoubtedly One China, Many Paths. It brings out the tumultuous changes happening in China and generally ignored by popular media that is too focussed on the neo- liberal paradise that China apparently is. The book not only indicates the reversal to capitalism (and a most horrendous one at that) that is being accomplished under the Chinese Communist Party but also that this neo- liberal euphoria rests on a rather slippery base.

The diversity of contributors, and that of their ideas, makes me feel that some very important developments in the realm of ideas is likely to come from China, it is mind boggling to see the sources that the Chinese who are in their thirties and forties are able to draw from, including, but not limited to the Marxist tradition.

The other book on China was Andre Malraux’s classic La Condition Humaine, written after the failed 1927 communist uprising in Shangai. In a metaphorical way, this could well be about the China of the 1990s.

Andrey Platonov’s grim allegory in The Foundation Pit confirms the universality of the work- the grotesque picture that he paints is based on the forced collectivization under Stalin in the 1920s, but the conclusions seems to be as relevant today when something similar is being attempted by the onslaught of neo- liberalism.

In the novel the character Voshchev is discharged from his job in a machine factory “because of his increasing loss of powers and tendency to stop and think amidst the general flow of work”, something that is continuously sought to be acheived not by a propagandistic state but by the increasingly proliferating “entertainment” industry.

The most pleasant experience in the year was my discovery of three writers from Argentina: the well known Manuel Puig (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Eternal Curse on the Reader of these Pages) whom I read for the first time, Tomás Eloy Martínez (all three novels published till date in English- The Peron Novel, Santa Evita and The Tango Singer, the last one published earlier this year), and Cesar Aira (his An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, 2006).

Roberto Bolano’s Distant Stars and to a lesser extent his collection of short stories published earlier this year, Last Evenings on Earth, did not surprise with his ability to weave the political tapestry of Chile in the aftermath of the coup in 1973.

In Indian fiction, Asomiya writer Indira Goswami’s Under the Shadow of Kamakhya reaffirmed for me her stature as a major Indian writer.

Oriya writer Fakir Mohan Senapathy’s Six acres and Half, considered to be the first modern Oriya novel. In a series of short, funny, delectable chapters he paints the social structure in Orissa in the 19th century.

Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines showcases Ghosh’s talent for writing and for creating some memorable characters, but on the basic idea- the inadequacy of the nation state in defining identity- it was disappointing, the treatment remains for most part at an emotional level.

PV Narasimha Rao’s 6 December 1992 gave the then Prime minister’s views on the run up to the destruction of the Babri Masjid, and much else, without shedding any new light though.

One ends this long year,on a cloudy, rainy evening with some books still unfinished: Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable, Juan Rulfo’s The Burning Plain, Andre Malraux’s Anti- memoirs and Salvoj Zizek’s The Parallax View.

Each, in it’s own manner, was not completed by the deadline that I set for them.

Words, it seems, refuse to follow calendars.

Related Post: The Year Gone By: 2005

Bibliophil Link for the list of books that I read this year.

About the Image: A Halloween Buddha. I found it interesting that someone should use Buddha for Halloween. Does it still remain Halloween?


Author: bhupinder singh

an occasional blogger

6 thoughts on “The Year Gone By: 2006”

  1. the china book sounds interesting & important, too many people think that’s eternal sunshine there which it most likely isn’t. And good old Malraux should be read more anyway

  2. You had a good past year of reading. I hope this year is just as riveting. I couldn’t agree more about words not following deadlines. Even so, one needs to learn about reading time management from you. You packed in a lot in a year. 🙂

    Happy reading in 2007!

  3. antonia: China is very high on priority this year, there is a lot of literature-both fiction and non- fiction- coming out from there.A reasonably good overview here.
    >You packed in a lot in a year
    But not enough…

  4. thanks bhupinder for this review, gonna read it later…either way,positive or negative one has to keep an eye on those folks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: