Sunday, June 22, 2014



The Prize:
Five stories will be chosen for publication in the DNA Sunday spread, ‘Just Before Monday’ by Out of Print’s Indira Chandrasekhar and her editors, Leela Levitt and Ram Sadasiv.

The winner will receive a prize of Rs 10000. The remaining four writers will receive an award of Rs 5000 each.

In addition, prizewinners and shortlisted writers will be published online in DNA’s e-paper.

The Theme:
To reference the choices made, and the transitions affected by the extraordinary Lok Sabha election of 2014, the theme of the fiction feature is CHOICE.

We are not seeking literal interpretations. Stories could comment on the alienation of contemporary life or, in contrast, emphasise the irrelevance of our societal structures by reflecting upon nature. Works could be personal, political or social. But ultimately they should bear some adherence to the theme – CHOICE. Or its lack!

Submission Details:
Submitted works must be in English, previously unpublished and close to 2000 words in length. Stand-alone excerpts from fiction under construction will also be entertained.

Submissions should be cut and pasted into the body of an email and sent to

Subject line should read ‘DNA-Out of Print Fiction’.

A short bio of 150-200 words should accompany the submission. Winners will be asked to send in a photograph immediately upon notification.

The last date for submissions is Friday, June 27 at midnight, Indian Standard Time.

Writers, whose stories have been chosen for publication, will be informed between July 10 and 12. If you have not heard from us by then, it means, unfortunately, that your piece has not been chosen.

We look forward to receiving your submissions.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Out of Print Author Series: Mahesh Rao

Out of Print is really pleased to be featuring an excerpt from Mahesh Rao’s The Smoke is Rising. The book has received much attention, and been widely reviewed. Here is a link to what The Spectator says, and here to the DNA books page

'What Rao does excellently is delineate the social layers of Mysore', says the Times Literary Supplement. This is subtly evident even in the segment we feature that takes place in the Mahalakshmi Gardens Betterment Association, a group fraught with politics and one-upmanship. We are drawn in to the world of Susheela, a widow, and at the end of the extract, are left wanting to know more.

The future is here. India has just sent its first spacecraft to the moon, and the placid city of Mysore is gearing up for its own global recognition with the construction of HeritageLand – Asia’s largest theme park. From behind the formidable gates of Mahalakshmi Gardens to the shanty houses on the edge of town, the people of Mysore are abuzz as they watch their city prepare for a complete transformation.

As government officials make plans for the expected tourism extravaganza, Mysore’s residents find themselves swept up in the ferment. Susheela, an elderly widow, is forced into a secretive new life. Uma, trying to escape her painful past, learns the lasting power of local gossip. And Mala must finally confront the reality of her husband’s troubling behaviour.

Savagely funny and deeply poignant, ‘The Smoke is Rising’ is a riveting portrait of a city hurtling towards an epic clash of modernity and tradition, and all the wandering souls – some hopeful, some broken, and a few somewhere in between – who find themselves caught in the middle.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Out of Print Author Series: Daisy Rockwell

Editor Ram Sadasiv spoke to translator Daisy Rockwell. 

Your translation of Shrilal Shukla's Among The Hunters is featured in Out of Print 15. What drew you to this story?
Shukla died in October 2011. At the time, an editor in India asked me to write a piece on him. I asked for some time, as I felt I hadn't read enough of his work. It's now two and a half years later, and I've yet to write the piece. Instead, I've been diligently reading Shukla ever since; I still don't feel like enough of an expert to write an article about him, but I've been enjoying every minute of it. This story in particular I enjoyed for the beautiful imagery and for the violence. I felt the parallel between the hunters and the villagers in search of the bride was neatly drawn, as was the complicity of the narrator in the violence, as a participant observer. Shukla is good at that: there are rarely any perfect good guys in his writing and this device has a nice way of drawing the reader in and making her feel complicit as well. Progressivist writing at its finest!

This is not your first work of translation. Previously, you have published Hats And Doctors, a translation of Upendranath Ashk stories. As a translator, how would you compare the two authors?
Ashk is from Punjab, although he later settled in UP, where Shukla spent his life. Ashk was fifteen years older than Shukla, and is considered to be from a different generation. I've never seen anything by either of them commenting on the other, but what they do have in common is a wry sense of humor. Ashk loathed clerks and bureaucrats, and Shukla was a bureaucrat, so I assume this means he'd have loathed him as well. Shukla, for his part, doesn't seem to have had much time for narcissism, a prominent trait of Ashk's, so I could imagine this would have turned him off as well. Ultimately, however, I think the two have much in common and should be studied side by side for their satire and humorous ways of pursuing progressivist ideals.

Recently you have been promoting a novel, Taste. Do you have any upcoming readings/events we should know about?
Nothing outside of New England, although I will be reading from Taste at the Goa Festival of Arts and Literature in December.

I just finished reading Taste – it is a wonderful novel and I do want to discuss it some more, but before we get into that I wanted to ask you about the video trailer. That was my first exposure to the novel and I thought it was very interesting that you chose to use a different medium to introduce the book. Can you tell us a little bit about how the video came to be?
Since I am mostly known as a painter and a Hindi scholar/translator, I felt like I needed to do something for publicity for my novel that would make it clear what this book was like. There's so much competing noise on the internet. It needed to be something attention-grabbing, and it also needed to make clear that this novel was coming from a different place from my other work. The trailer was made by friends and family, so I was very lucky to be able to see this idea come to fruition.

Daniel, the protagonist of Taste, has a highly developed aesthetic sense that is in many ways at odds with the modern world. Many of the funniest parts of the book are the ‘fish out of water’ riffs where Daniel is dropped into the maelstrom of contemporary culture and has to figure out how to cope with the world (and vice versa). A visit to Graceland is a crucial plot point, which also made me laugh out loud. Were there any other places you thought of dropping him into? At a certain point I was hoping that Pottery Barn would come out with a model of his fruit table and that he would have to go into the store and argue with the store manager.
Hah-- Pottery Barn: the sequel, what a good idea! For some people, leaving one's comfort zone can lead to greater understanding of the world, more tolerance, etc. For Daniel, that way lies madness, and each subsequent encounter drives him closer to the edge. I was less thinking of where I could place him to prove that point, and more imagining each point on his journeys that he would have to interact with unfamiliar people and cultural phenomena. I realized when I was looking at Amtrak schedules that he would have to spend the entire day in Chicago, both ways, and that's how those sections were born. 

You are also an artist. I thought the little sketches at the beginning of each chapter were quite charming. You have a book of artwork, The Little Book Of Terror. Have you been doing any painting recently?
I've been working more on translation lately (Upendranath Ashk's Hindi novel Falling Walls, which will be out from Penguin India in 2015), but I'm gearing up to work on a new painting project called Odalisque. (*smiles mysteriously*)