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Storytellers

The 2012 Nobel Literature Prize laureate on how he crafts his stories:

"My greatest challenges come with writing novels that deal with social realities, such as The Garlic Ballads, not because I’m afraid of being openly critical of the darker aspects of society, but because heated emotions and anger allow politics to suppress literature and transform a novel into reportage of a social event. As a member of society, a novelist is entitled to his own stance and viewpoint; but when he is writing he must take a humanistic stance, and write accordingly. Only then can literature not just originate in events, but transcend them, not just show concern for politics but be greater than politics.

"Possibly because I’ve lived so much of my life in difficult circumstances, I think I have a more profound understanding of life. I know what real courage is, and I understand true compassion. I know that nebulous terrain exists in the hearts and minds of every person, terrain that cannot be adequately characterized in simple terms of right and wrong or good and bad, and this vast territory is where a writer gives free rein to his talent. So long as the work correctly and vividly describes this nebulous, massively contradictory terrain, it will inevitably transcend politics and be endowed with literary excellence."
AUTHOR:Mo Yan
PUBLISHED: Dec. 10, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5289 words)

Walking With The Comrades

Gandhians with a Gun? Arundhati Roy plunges into the sea of Gondi people to find some answers…
PUBLISHED: March 29, 2010
LENGTH: 147 minutes (36945 words)

The Thirteenth Floor

[Fiction] The stigma and allure of a building's 13th floor:

"In the end, our building's thirteenth floor went to an American company. The floor's flats were turned into serviced apartments for Rafell Inc's expat workforce. It was a direct deal with the builder. None of us earned any commission. In the vacant space where our kids once played carrom and table tennis, where our drivers and servants took afternoon naps and where our youngsters held Saturday night dance parties, now people with names like Brenda and Wesley slept, ate, and watched television. The watchmen claimed the Americans would be up all night sometimes. Maybe it was the differing time zones and residual jet lag that caused their insomnia. It was more likely, however, that the walls of their thirteenth floor flat had retained memories of our laughter, our screams, our amorous whispers and stifled sobs, making the air still crackle with the excitement and anticipation that we had come to associate with that derelict floor.

"In the end, when it was time to dismantle the table-tennis table and move out our discarded furniture to make way for the Americans, we realised we loved the thirteenth floor more than our own plush, over-furnished flats."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 20, 2008
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1745 words)