WEEKLY NOTES | Mirza Waheed wins The Hindu Prize 2019 for his novel

The 2019 edition of The Hindu Prize in fiction category has been awarded to Mirza Waheed’s Tell Her Everything and Santanu Das for India, Empire, and First World War Culture: Writings, Images and Songs in the non-fiction section.

The jury comprised diplomat and author Navtej Sarna, author and columnist Nilanjana Roy, author Pradeep Sebastian, researcher and translator J Devika and professor Rajeswari Sunder Rajan.

London based Kashmiri author Mirza Waheed, is known for his debut novel The Collaborator, released in 2011.  He also wrote another Kashmir based novel The Book of Gold Leaves in 2014. His third book Tell Her Everything was published in 2019.

“An extraordinary work of fiction whose complexity, depth and narrative mastery would be hard to match in contemporary world literature,” The Hindu quoted the citation for Waheed’s novel reading, describing it as “a compelling novel, both a narrative tour de force and an exploration of a profound existential and moral conundrum.”

Instituted in 2019, the Hindu Prize honours writers who have spent their lifetime mining the human spirit through their words and ideas. The prize is usually awarded at a ceremony during The Hindu’s annual literature festival Lit For Life. However, the 2020 edition had to be cancelled due to a challenging environment. An award ceremony to be held on March 28 was also cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Gulshan Books donates 1,000 books to quarantine centres in Kashmir

Srinagar: Gulshan books one of a reputed bookshop and publishing house in Srinagar has donated 1,000 books to various quarantine centres that have been setup in Kashmir due to coronavirus outbreak. The management of the publishing house said the books will help the people housed at the isolation centres make good use of their time.

“We are utterly happy to have donated 1,000 books to all those who have been kept at different quarantine centres in the valley. We are trying our best to help them open the doors of knowledge to enlighten their minds in this strenuous time,” its owner Sheikh Aijaz Ahmad said. The publishing house, which also runs a bookshop-cum-cafe on Nehru Park in the middle of Dal Lake housing over 80,000 books, was featured in the Limca Book of Records in 2018.

According to Aijaz, books have been donated with an aim to keep students occupied, who recently returned from affected countries and are presently in quarantine. Initial batch of about 1,100 students arrived from Bangladesh, Iran and other countries.

From non-fiction, religion and politics, the owner ensured light readings suitable for young age are also added in the consignment for quarantine centres.

Donated books include Gone with the Wind, Dairy of a Young Girl, and works of Sidney Sheldon and Daniel Steel.

The books were packed in cartons and handed over to Srinagar DC.


Rare Kashmiri shawl emerges top seller at Yorkshire auction

London: A rare Kashmiri shawl of late 18th century has been sold at a record price of £12,000 or around Rs 11 lakh at an auction in Yorkshire UK.

The 4ft square hand block-printed shawl with all-over repeat stylised flower motifs has some moth holes and the auctioneers were hoping that it will get at the maximum of around Rs 10,000. But the interest in the shawl rose as soon as the pictures of it were posted for auction.

There were multiple bids for the shawl as soon as auction started. The interested parties bid through phones and online, which had a escalating effect on the price. Starting with an initial bid of £50, within two minutes the shawl went to an Indian bidder at £12,000 or around Rs 11 lakh, the local media reported.

Avalon Fotheringham, curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Asian department was quoted by local media as saying that such price for the particular type of Kashmiri shawl was not unheard of. “The piece is of a class of Kashmir shawls known as ‘moon shawls’ which were produced over the second half of the 18th century into the 19th century. The shawl in question may date from the later 18th century, based on its style and size,” she told the local media. “Kashmir shawls can be popular collector’s items and it is not uncommon for fine pieces to fetch higher-than-estimated prices,” she added, pointing to a collection sold at a Christie’s online sale last June where premium-inclusive prices for moon shawls ranged from Rs 2.7 to Rs 18 Lakh.

The shawl was part of various articles of a family whose last of whose line has died and the proceedings of the auctions went to a charitable trust now handling the estate.


Masood Hussain latest digital art draws inspiration from Coronavirus

Srinagar: Renowned artist Masood Hussain has received glimpse of new latest Digital art work highlighting the dangers of Coronavirus in Kashmir and government refusal to start the high speed mobile internet service in Kashmir.

Masood is known for producing art works based on the theme of contemporary challenges. He has highlighted the horror of pellet guns through a series of images known as ‘Silent Images’ in 2016. The images depicted the damage done by pellet guns to the children of the valley and was a departure of his usual style, with the use of dark tones in a digital medium.

Continuing with the tradition of using the digital media he released the latest art work on the current situation of coronavirus and internet ban last Friday. The image tried to project that there is no time for subtext and the message is obvious, literally written all over it that the virus has arrived at Kashmir’s door and, without effective communication, its people are helpless to fight it.

Set against the Dal Lake, his latest work sends out the same message. “The virus has arrived. We need to take precautions and we need information, and for that we need Internet.”

While talking to national media Hussain said, “the government must restore 4G. The current 2G connections are slow and now that people are expected to stay indoors and work, faster connections are very important.”

Hussain has also expressed his concern on the lack of preparations in Kashmir for effectively dealing with the situation. While recalling his journey from New Delhi to Srinagar, Masood told media, “we were accompanied by so many people coming in from the Middle East and all we were asked to do was fill up a form,” he says. He worries that the situation in Kashmir is not being monitored properly, and there may be many people in the Valley already carrying the virus.

“We need to be connected to the world,” Hussain says for ensuring effective response from both government and general public.