Some of us have wings: a conversation with illustrious flash fictionista Kuzhali Manickavel

Everybody knows who Yara Sofia is in Puerto Rico. And if you don’t, then sorry darling, this is not your world.

–One of Kuzhali Manickavel’s favorite quotes from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Season 3.

For the past few months I’ve been up to my earlobes in Blaft Publications. Last week (?) I posted an interview with Rakesh Khanna, editor of Blaft’s Tamil Pulp Fiction series, and Pritham K. Chakravarthy, translator of same. Next week my Blaft extravaganza review will appear in Bookslut. For now, content yourself with this interview with flash fiction author and scintillating blogger Kuzhali Manickavel, author of the story collection Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings. Besides buying her book, which you should do before reading this interview, you should sample some of her very short stories linked from her website (there’s a whole menu along the right side of the page).

Lapata: In a recent blog post on Indian writing in English, you title a section: “Do not have a name like Kuzhali Manickavel.” You offer alternative names for other IWE writers (Vikram Seth=>Seth Victor, etc.), but not for yourself. I was thinking Carly McKnieval might be good, what do you think?

KM: I’m actually not qualified to be an Indian Writer in English (people have told me this so it must be true) but I feel like that shouldn’t stop me from writing blog posts telling other people what to do, especially when it comes to authenticity for Indian writers in English. Having said that, I’m not sure if Carly McKnieval is the name I’d go with. Carly’s fine but I have some reservations about ‘McKnieval’ because it sorta looks Jewish and Scottish at the same time, which might be confusing for people and may also force me to lie. Because if people were to ask me ‘So are you Jewish or Scottish?’ then I would have to say ‘Yes’. And then if they say ‘Oh, I had no idea there were Jewish people in Scottish…Land.’ I would have to say ‘Oh my God, Scottish Land is like the most Jewish place ever!’

Actually, I don’t mind lying like that because writer authenticity is really important to me and I feel like you need to be prepared to lie and change your name for it and stuff like that.
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When: Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 5:00pm
Where: 5 Holden St., North Adams, MA 01247-2423

Three Generations of Rockwell Creators:

For the first time ever, the artwork of three generations of Rockwells will be displayed in the Berkshires, as the work of Jarvis and Daisy Rockwell is exhibited in North Adams as part of DownStreet Art, a public art project of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center.
Their work will join the art of their father and grandfather, 20th-century American painter and Illustrator Norman Rockwell, which can be viewed at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.
From June 24 to July 25, Daisy Rockwell’s “Rasgulla,” a display of Rasa paintings, will be in the Galerie Inqilab at 5 Holden St.

I really, really, really wish I was there. Please attend in my stead and see Lapata’s latest show.

The Fur of a Lion

Putin with PoodleA manly public image can take a lot of work. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image is managed on many levels, including media depiction of his relationships with household pets. It has been widely reported that Putin is frequently photographed with an imposing black lab named Koni, whom he even invites to summits with foreign leaders, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is known to be afraid of dogs due to some childhood trauma. But Putin’s heart does not lie with his muscular labrador as he would like us to believe. On the contrary, he harbors a secret love for a fluffy little poodle named Tosya. Tosya, whose fur is weekly trimmed ‘in the lion’s style’ by a dog hairdresser, is officially supposed to be his wife, Lyudmila’s pet, but this photo, uncovered by the resourceful Scottish Terrier and Dog News, tells a different story.

To Us

When President To Us of South Korea visited with Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, they toasted their pact with blueberry wine and Kim played the eccentric and charismatic host, as is his wont. President Roh presented the Commander with many gifts, including the DVDs of “YMCA Baseball Team, Strokes of Fire, and the hit drama Daejanggeum (대장금), which features Lee Young-ae (이영애), known as one of Kim’s favorite South Korean actresses.” President Roh added that “The stories are good but the qualities of the pictures are just as good. These days, there are a lot of movies that gather a lot of attention with good visuals.”