Thursday, April 8, 2010

Martel is in the news again

Canadian author Yann Martel has a new book out. Having won hearts and prizes through the effective portrayal of animal characters in his second book 'Life of Pi', he is now out with 'Beatrice and Virgil', a novel about a donkey and a howler monkey and the journey they take with a writer named Henry.

Martel has been in the news a lot lately in Canada. 'Life of Pi' is being made into a movie. Old news, you say? OK, here is something newer: In 2007, he started a project, 'What is Stephen Harper reading?' He sends one book every two weeks to Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, to help expand Harper's "stillness". Even a loyal Martel fan such as I can find this act somewhat presumptuous--don't even the best known books move people selectively and at a personal level?--yet I do so love his gumption! Go Martel! Never mind that Martel's patient concern for Harper's 'expansion' is being met with silence. Especially since the praise and the reward are coming from none less than The Big O. No, not Oprah! Obama! Apparently, Malia and dad loved 'Life of Pi' so much that Martel in small-city Saskatoon received a hand-written appreciation note from the most powerful man in the world. The contrast between the reactions of the two leaders has not gone unnoticed. It is a boon to our media and our liberals. And understandably, to Martel himself. Too bad for Harper that he neither sent fan-mail nor a thank-you letter in time. (If you received a book as a gift by mail, every two weeks, wouldn't you, at a minimum, send a polite thank you note to the sender?) Now whatever Harper does, he will reap no positive publicity. If he writes a thank you note politely at this late hour, he is going to end up playing second fiddle to Obama. If he does not write and continues to ignore Martel, he will always come across as colder and more aloof than Obama. Tough spot.

Moral of the story for us ordinary citizens? Whether you like somebody's gift or not, write that thank-you note promptly.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

'Radica' by Kenneth Salick

I am moved by 'Radica', a Soca-style song (great music; greater lyrics) by Kenneth Salick from Trinidad. Salick is a village handyman, not a trendy, smooth pop or hip hop singer with music industry backing. An MP3 of 'Radica' can be downloaded from for 99 cents. I think if he changes the name from 'Radica' to Radhika' the Indian market in the subcontinent will open up.

Radica by Kenneth Salick - Click here for more home videos

And if you liked the Kenneth Salick original but found its sadness in love too haunting, try the video created by two Indo-Caribbean youth (clearly living in Canada). They've decided to highlight the tragicomedy of love.