Thursday, December 28, 2006

Arizona State University team

Here is a potted biography of Professor Melissa Pritchard of Arizona State University, courtesy Bishan Samaddar of Kalam.
Melissa Pritchard
Professor of English and Women's Studies at Arizona State University, Melissa Pritchard is the nationally acclaimed author of three short story collections: Spirit Seizures, The Instinct for Bliss, and Disappearing Ingenue; three novels: Phoenix, Selene of the Spirits, and Late Bloomer; and a biography: Devotedly Always, Virginia: The Life of Virginia Galvin Piper. A recipient of numerous prestigious literary awards, including the Flannery O'Connor Award, the Carl Sandburg Award, the James Phelan Award, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for best fiction by an American woman and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Writers Voice YMCA, and Brown University's Howard Foundation, Pritchard's fiction has appeared widely in such literary journals as: The Southern Review, Boulevard, Open City, The Gettysburg Review, Conjunctions, and The Paris Review. Her stories are frequently cited and reprinted in anthologies such as: Pushcart Prize XX and XXVI; Prize Stories: The O Henry Awards; Best American Short Stories; The Prentice Hall Anthology of Women's Literature; Best of the West; Great Contemporary Ghost Stories; Mothers: Twenty Stories of Contemporary Motherhood; and American Gothic Tales, as well as college textbooks such as: Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers; Behind the Short Story: From First to Final Draft; and A Garden of Forking Paths: An Anthology for Creative Writers.
She has received the Claudia Ortese Memorial Lecture Prize in North American Literature from the University of Florence and her fiction has been translated into Spanish and Italian. Her novel Selene of the Spirits was selected for the Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” series and her short story collection, Disappearing Ingenue, featured in Doubleday's “Fiction for the Rest of Us” series, was chosen by Alan Cheuse for National Public Radio's 2002 Annual Summer Reading List. Her latest novel Late Bloomer, published by Doubleday in 2004, has been called “brilliant” by Publishers Weekly in a starred review, “ravishing” by Vanity Fair magazine, and was named a 2004 Best Book of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. She is at work on a new collection of stories, The Odditorium.
Nominated for the 2005 Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award by Arizona State University's Commission on the Status of Women, Pritchard is Director of Creative Partnerships for the Daywalka Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking and modern day slavery. Pritchard is currently working to establish outreach projects with the Phoenix Children's Hospital and Daywalka's Kalam project, for the MFA Program at ASU where she has taught since 1992. She is also serving as story consultant for a documentary about the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Her team comprises Michael Green, Max Doty, Tina Hammerton, Darcy Courteaux and Aimee Baker.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

2006 End sem Question Paper

Here is the 2006 End sem question paper:

1. Complete this dialogue.

‘Why have you called me here?’ she asked, unable any longer to bear my silence.

‘Haven’t you guessed?’ I fingered the edge of the file I was carrying. Surely she had recognised it, understood why I was meeting her like this. ‘Malavika, how long has this been going on?’

She frowned. ‘You mean the financial irregularities? Since August, I guess. At any rate, it can’t have been longer than that.’

I put the file down on top of the water cooler and drew myself a glass. ‘Why did you take so long to tell me?’

‘I wanted to be sure.’

‘Who were you protecting?’

It seemed as if a shutter fell inside her face. Her lips thinned; she turned her face away and looked out of the floor-length window, her eyes tracing the line of the sea in the distance. I noticed the polish on one of her nails was chipped. ‘No one.’

2. Write a full story (not a plot outline) taking one element each from each column of this story grid.










Nuclear shelter




Beauty parlour







3. Here is the back-story of a character. Write a ‘front story’ (starting from this point in time) about him. You may make up any additional people or incidents.

Shantanu Mahajan is 43 years old. He’s a successful engineer with a construction company specialising in city planning. He grew up in Nasik in a middle class family; his father was the headmaster of a boys’ school and his mother a tribal from the interior of Madhya Pradesh, who went to school on a government scholarship and became a teacher of physics. Mahajan, an only child, is immensely proud of his mother, but also a bit defensive about her. When he went to his father’s school, he was acutely aware that it was his father’s status that prevented the boys from teasing him about her. He lives in Mumbai, and the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city is a relief; he’s happy there but not very socially active, loves his work and relaxes by watching national geographic and going for hikes in the Western Ghats, which he loves. He belongs to a hiking club and has a photoblog of digital pictures he’s taken in the hills. But to his parents’ eternal grief he never married: he wasn’t good at finding anyone for himself, and caste considerations prevented them from finding a match for him. Now he’s comfortably settled, spends moderately on fine wines and his flat in Bandra, his pride and joy. Only once in a while, especially after his parents visit, he regrets the way his life has turned out and wonders if it could have been different.

4. Rewrite this descriptive passage, introducing colour and atmosphere:

The alley is cobbled. The houses on either side are high. Narrow windows occasionally look out onto it, but mostly the walls are blank and dirty. Here and there graffiti and torn posters can be seen. A stray donkey has made its home near the garbage dump at the end where it munches on kitchen waste and discarded leaves. The alley winds behind the houses, giving access to back doors where servants, traders and workers enter and leave the grand yet ancient buildings. From this side, it’s hard to recognise where one house ends and the other begins, although the fronts are painted in different colours and designs. If you don’t know where the alley opens, it’s easy to miss it altogether.

5. Here is a plot outline. Complete it and write a story based on it.

The fort is extremely old, most of its roofs decayed and gone. It frowns over the valley of Suvarnam. Bhanwarlal, the old master, is dying, but he has no children and only a young wife of seventeen years whom he married in the spring. She weeps bitterly, but no one pays her any attention. When he’s been carried to the river and burned with the last of the fort’s firewood, she comes back in her white sari and bars the door behind her. The valley and its village forget about her, except Munni Dai, who brought her here and is resigned to staying with her. The two women sit together, preparing their meagre meals and passing the time each day till the sun goes down. Sometimes Munni Dai scolds the young girl, saying no one in this day and age behaves like this, but she always calms down and goes back to cleaning the rice. Until one day …

Bonus Bootleg Track!

Some questions I didn’t use

1. This is the beginning of a story outline. Complete it. You may introduce one or two additional characters.

Rama is a spoilt rich girl who thinks she can have everything. Her parents have brought her up with the best of everything, and she’s used to always getting her way. Then she’s caught cheating in her board selection tests, using a state-of-the-art WAP mobile phone to download answers from the internet. She’s expelled from school. When her parents go to plead for her, the principal agrees to take her back, on one condition: she must earn the price of the phone, Rs 15,000, with her own labours.

[Describe what happens after that.]

2. Create a plot outline choosing one emotion, object, character or place from each of the following sets and weaving it into the outline. You may add other elements and characters as necessary, but the four things you choose must figure prominently. State your four choices at the head of your answer.





A policewoman

A condemned house



A cook

A shopping mall


Rolling pin

A fisherman

A train compartment



A painter

A riverbank



3. Complete any one of the following pieces of dialogue:

a. ‘What are we going to do?’ he cried in despair.

‘You ask me now?’ Rajlakshmi’s eye blazed. ‘When all our wealth has already been poured by you down the throat of that landlord, just because you can’t hold your liquor?’

Haranath hung his head. ‘Yes, there’s a devil in me, I know. That devil would drink the sea and kill me with the salt. But the deed is done, Raji, our land is gone, and now we must try to survive it. I am sorry.’
‘Will your sorry give my children education, or put food in their hollow bellies?’

‘I wish I could wring out of me all the liquor I’ve drunk,’ Haranath moaned, ‘and be a man again.’

‘Well you can’t,’ she said, and crossed her arms, ‘so you’d better start thinking fast.’

‘Where shall we go?’ he asked, and looked with fearful eyes at the rail track across the distant green fields.

b. ‘That’s interesting,’ she said softly.

‘What is?’ he asked, idly turning the pages of a magazine.

‘The Agarwals have called the painters in. Maybe at last they’re going to get that ugly daughter of theirs married off.’

He looked interested. ‘You mean Reshma? How old is she now?’

‘Twenty nine.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘The girl’s been twenty nine for the past five years.’

He crossed the room to join her at the window. ‘What a lot of activity. You know, you could be right.’

‘Hmmm. I wonder if they know she’s been secretly meeting that Rajat for years.’

‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve just found out.’

4. Rewrite any one of these paragraphs, giving the scene emotional colour. Invent the details you need to flesh out the scene, such as colours, sounds, sights, objects, activity, people and animals, smells etc. but do not introduce a plot or principal characters.

There is a busy road leading from the station. On one side is a market. On the other there is a pond. By the pond women wash clothes and pots. There are children and stray dogs in the field beyond the market. Many fruiting and flowering trees grow around the spot. The houses are mostly two-storeyed with verandahs. People watch the bustle from them.

There is a slick mall on the corner. Lots of people shop there, or pass the time. There are often traffic jams outside. All kinds of shops fill the mall. In the middle, there is a kids’ playground. On the top floor, there is a restaurant where they often have live music. There are also stalls in the middle, one for icecream and one for rolls. Young people hang out there.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kalam: Margins Write and University of Arizona meeting

On either Thursday Jan 11 or Friday Jan 12, 2007 (depending on when our American friends get in) there's going to be a meeting in the AV Room with some students and a professor of creative writing from Arizona State University. This comes to us courtesy Kalam: Margins Write (an NGO) . I'll need 5-10 people, preferably past and present WIPers but other creative people also welcome, to come sign up with me beforehand. When we meet in the new year is fine.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Upgrade to Beta ... Ooops!

Calling all members

I've just upgraded the blog to the Blogger beta platform, which is why your names have disappeared from the sidebar. However, you all still have permission to post to this blog. You just have to log in to blogger in beta (easy if you have a google account) and your name will magically reappear. Hopefully this upgrade will remove some of the more irritating features of the blogger platform.

Job offer and call for submissions

Crossposted from Caferati listings
1. Journalists Wanted
for a new Bombay magazine
Wanted: Sub-editors / copy editors / Full-time journalists / writers / reporters. Also designers. A new magazine is being launched in Bombay. It is city-centric and will focus on celebrities. Obviously, they don't want to reveal more since the magazine isn't out yet. They're offering competitive salaries. And they would like to make it clear that this a 6 days a week job, and the work doesn't stop till the next issue is out. They're looking to put together a team by early December. (Our apologies for not posting this earlier. To apply, please email Suren Bhatia at
[Information courtesy: Rushina Munshaw - Ghildiyal of A Perfect Bite]
2. Call for submissions; Writer's Bloc Festival
Rage Productions (Rahul da Cunha, Rajit Kapur and Shernaz Patel) is organising Writer's Bloc, a festival of plays written by new writers, to be staged at Prithvi (Jan 9th-21st) and NCPA (Jan 23rd-Feb 4th). The festival is a culmination of a year-long process, in conjuction with the Royal Court Theatre London, of conducting workshops for new playwrights to help them complete a full-length play. Part of the programme is a section called the Platform Performances that will precede each of the Prithvi shows. These will be held at 8 pm each day, Jan 9th-21st. In keeping with the festival theme, each Platform performance will be a 20-min reading of original writing in any form: poetry, short fiction, an except from long fiction, skit, play except, song, or a combination of all these. Actors are available to read out/enact pieces, if required. (But writers may choose to read their own work.) If you'd like to submit your original writing to be read, please mail the piece(s) to Niloufer Sagar at RAGE needs to finalise the platform listings by the end of this week. So hurry!
[Information courtesy Mukul Chadda]
Until next time, then.
May your muses treat you with kind, tender care.
Thank you
Manisha Lakhe, Annie Zaidi, Peter Griffin
(Feedback welcome at editors at caferati dot com.) And please keep those suggestions coming in. We need them!)