Por Cristo e pela pimenta

Já que estávamos ancorados outra vez na baía de Cochim, saiu este livro,

  por 399 rúpias já nas livrarias (não sei a quanto estará na rua, junto aos semáforos…).  Ver imagem em tamanho real


 Ver imagem em tamanho real



Chamaram-me a atenção através de uma recensão no The Hindu, de domingo passado, http://www.hindu.com/lr/2009/05/03/stories/2009050350020100.htm  .

O livro foi lançado ontem, sexta, em Delhi:

Time : 7:00 pm

Entry : Free

Event Details : Launch of the book ‘For Pepper and Christ’ by Keki N. Daruwalla.

Collaboration : Penguin Books India

Place : India Habitat Centre ( IHC ), Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003
           Parking : Gate No. 1 to 3 ( Cars ), Gate No. 2 ( Bikes & Bicycles )

No site do Hindu há também esta entrevista ao autor.

Este livro será o primeiro romance de Keki N. Daruwalla, mas ele é um poeta afirmado, um senhor já com mais de 70 anos e que escreve em inglês (ver poemas em http://www.subcontinent.com/misc/daruwalla/poems_index.html      ou ouvi-los aqui: http://www.loc.gov/acq/ovop/delhi/salrp/kekidaruwalla.html

      On a new terrain


For Pepper and Christ, his first novel, tries to capture the epoch-making event of Vasco da Gama’s voyage, says Keki Daruwalla. Excerpts from an interview…

 Keki N. Daruwalla, one of India’s foremost poets writing in English, has just published his first novel, a historical novel at that…

What brought you to the story of Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India? What was it about the world of the 15th century that interested you?

 I started writing and the research for the novel in 1996, and thought I’d finish it by 1998 on the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s voyage.

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A lot of things intervened, so it took its time. West Asia has been my focus for a while. It was a great time for voyaging and literature as well. And Vasco’s voyage was an epoch-making event and brought the East and the West closer — in trade, conflict and colonising.

You say in your introduction that historical fiction is neither history nor fiction, or it is perhaps both. A lot of your narrative is based on first-hand accounts, such as the anonymous account of Vasco da Gama’s first voyage, and features the lives of people who were indeed on Vasco da Gama’s ship. How do you strike the balance between history and fiction?

The big challenge for a historical novelist, as I see it, is to strike a balance. He or she should know, or rather have a feel for it intuitively, when and where history has to end and fiction begin. I suppose, you could still manage with less of history and more of fiction. But too many liberties with history, turning chronologies on their head — that’s a no-go area, as far as I am concerned… Most of this book is fictional — all the characters are, apart from Vasco da Gama, Cabral and the Zamorin… This is fiction, but slotted in a historical era. More of history and less of fiction would also make the novel redundant.  

One of the underlying themes to this book is how remarkably interconnected this 15th century world was, something we often don’t realise and something we think of as being unique to the last century. Your novel starts off in the streets of Cairo, visits Mombasa and ends in Calicut.

The world was, at the time of Vasco da Gama’s first voyage in 1498, beginning to become even more inter-connected which is part of the reason why it is so fascinating. You cannot tell the story of Vasco da Gama’s voyage, of him coming and fighting the Moors as they called them [the Muslims] then, without the context of Cairo, Alexandria and Ottoman Turkey. These are, after all, the areas through which the spice routes ran.

Another theme that runs through this novel is of the misunderstandings you get when different cultures meet. The Portuguese had a bad experience in Africa, which in a sense laid the context for their misunderstandings off the Malabar and the conflict. But there is also a lot of humour that underlies these interactions.

Ver imagem em tamanho realDespite assiduous spying along the Red sea and the Indian ocean, the Portuguese were innocent of the ground realities in India. The Europeans considered them backward at the time. The very fact that they took temples of Kali to be Churches of Virgin Mary shows this. The trouble or conflict started with Cabral’s voyage [in 1500] and the misunderstandings they had then. But we should remember they even suffered scurvy, and had a terrible time of it.

You also bring out the religious tensions that operated in this world — in Cairo, between the Muslims and the Christians, and also the tensions within Islam, when Ehtesham the artist runs into trouble for his work.

The memories of the crusades were still fresh and I bring that out through the ramblings of an old chronicler. It would be incorrect to say that I set out to bring out the tensions within Islam. It’s just the mindset of the fanatic fringe against painting (“image-making”) that I tried to bring out. That may, in a far fetched manner, work as a metaphor — fanaticism versus the creative process.

De outro site (já há imensos comentários ao livro na net):

In his first novel noted poet and short story writer Keki N. Daruwalla brings alive a world of tumultuous voyaging during the time of Vasco da Gama-an era when the quest for exotic spices triggered a passionate desire for exploration. Legends of a magnificent Christian dominion, nestled in the heart of the East and ruled by the fabled Prester John, also generated an intense curiosity about the lands bordering the Indian Ocean.  Ver imagem em tamanho real

Traversing the ocean from the African coastline to Calicut on the Malabar Coast, and zig-zagging through the streets of Cairo, For Pepper and Christ takes the reader on a voyage of discovery with a singular cast of characters-Brother Figueiro, the fervent missionary, constantly in a tussle between felt reality and envisioned ideal; Taufiq the eternal voyager, quick to board ship and even quicker to fall in love in a strange land; Ehtesham the artist who cannot stop painting even when his life is in danger; and the Muhtasib, the Zamorin and the Abbott, three men of power, but with vastly different ways of using that power. The flight of silver doves over a church spire causes riots in Egypt; the discord between Islam and Christendom intensifies; and the individual destinies of the characters collide and coalesce in this atlas of shifting geography and looming history to form an intriguing web of power and ambition, humility and sacrifice, greed and betrayal, love and redemption. Blending historical fact with richly imagined fiction, For Pepper and Christ is imbued with the creative brilliance of one of India’s finest poets.”

One Response to Por Cristo e pela pimenta

  1. Sérgio Mascarenhas diz:

    Aí por 2003 a Fundação organizou com o The Little Magazine em Deli um encontro entre escritores indianos e portugueses, representados estes pelo Urbano Tavares Rodrigues e a Clara Pinto Correia. Se bem me lembro e a minha fraca memória não me engana, Keki Daruwalla era um dos poetas indianos presentes.

    Quanto ao livro, pode ser interessante e, como ele diz, não é um tratado de história. Mas o que é certo é que se baseia, pelo menos em parte, em informação errada e há bastante tempo desacreditada em termos historiográficos. O que é certo é que há mitos da história que custam a morrer, como o do piloto Ibn Majid, por exemplo. Ou a distorção presente no título. É que Vasco da Gama não navegou «For Pepper and Christ»… de todo em todo.

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