My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll



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5 October 2023

The Internet Personified: Thursday Link List

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From the British Library’s free-to-use online collection of images on Flickr

My terrific terabytes,

I’ve had a busy week already—October 3rd was a holiday here for German reunification day and also a dear friend’s birthday, so we celebrated madly starting Saturday with a day time party at a club called about: blank. I don’t like techno music much (or staying up past my bedtime) (or spending a lot of money to enter a place where I’ll have to do two other things I don’t like) so this was ideal. The music was gentle, the entry was donation-based and we entered at 4 and left at 8 and were nicely in bed by 10.30. The ideal Saturday! Sadly, I’ve only discovered this concept much too late, it’s cold now and getting colder, so outdoor raves will soon have to be shelved till spring.

One thing it’s the perfect weather for is book launches! And so I’m DELIGHTED to announce a book party in Berlin next weekend, Friday the 13th (oooOOOooo). Tell your friends!

However, we’ve had a string of Golden Days, warm sunshine with that particular light you only get when the days are getting shorter and everyone’s readying up for the cold. It was grey and gloomy all day today for instance, but now, nearly 5 pm, the sun has just come out and the skies are blue once more. I have my favourite writing playlist on (this one) and have just managed to finish the second draft of a short story I’ve been playing around with. And so, with a little time to play: onward to the links! (Remember to use 12ft.io if you’d like to bypass a paywall, works on most.)

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“if you are the kind of person who wants to see the loyal, loving, trustworthy part of yourself in an animal, you will look to dogs. If you want to see out of the human world, into another world, where a different animal lives without these defining human needs, you will love cats.” In other words, loving a dog is like gazing into a particularly flattering mirror. Cat people look outwards, through a window into nature. - From: Purring, parasites and pure love: what exactly makes someone a cat person? (The Guardian)

Related (and also sent me into a rabbithole of researching having a pet rat)

The rats teased the humans. They performed freudensprung, a German word that means “joy jumps.” They also emitted the kind of ultrasonic chirps that have been linked to what scientists dryly call “positive affective states.” (“You can say it’s laughter, but it’s not sounding really like human laughter,” says Sylvie Cloutier, an ethologist who pioneered research into rat tickling but was not involved in the hide-and-seek study. “They’re more like little happy chirps when you can hear them.”) After the experiment, and rather chillingly, the researchers euthanized the rats that played with humans in order to further study their brains. - From: In Defense of the Rat (Hakai Magazine)

And, okay, okay, not leaving dogs out

Before a dog starts barking to express an urgent drive to go outside, they often have come in to check on us as we fixate on the computer, stare at us, nose-bump our leg, give a little whine, and, if none of these work, come out with a bark (all these levels of attention-getting can be seen in interaction between dogs too). If we would rather they not bark to talk, better that we be alert to that first attempt to communicate.- From: What do dogs know about us? (Atlantic)

Animal link quota reached! On to the humans:

There’s a huge difference between asking to reschedule a coffee date with a coworker pal, and telling your best friend you won’t be coming to their wedding next week. If you’re overly apologetic for a fairly minor cancellation (e.g., “I’m the absolute worst. Do you totally hate me? Can you ever forgive me?”), you run the risk of making your buddy feel like they need to comfort you. (It also just comes off as pretty insincere.) But being really casual and nonplussed about a kind of significant cancellation isn’t a good look either. If you’re tempted to overcompensate (or be rather dismissive), it might be because you’re actually feeling a bit vulnerable or uncomfortable about your choice. - From: How to cancel plans without losing friends and feeling like a jerk (Self)

I really enjoy Jessa Crispin’s newsletter.

And despite men still drinking more than women, both in units of consumption and in the percentage of the population, and despite men also suffering from poor health effects and addiction rates from alcohol consumption, most of the new media attention on overconsumption of alcohol started to focus on women's problematic drinking. In the course of any day of my media diet, I see newspapers and magazines asking women over and over, “Are you drinking too much?” And if you answer with a panicked “I don't know!” you'll get hit with, “Well, buy this thing from us to find out.”- From: Selling Sobriety (The Culture We Deserve)

Ziwe’s new book has been excerpted all over the place recently and it sounds amazing.

This is a theme in my life. I share funny stories only to have my audience emphatically warn me never to repeat them. Here’s a funny story that is actually sad. To celebrate Grandparents’ Day, my second-grade teacher, Mrs. [REDACTED], asked her students to draw things that we liked to do with our grandparents. All of my grandparents were already dead, information that I politely relayed to my teacher, only for her to insist that I draw an image of what I would do with my grandparents if they were still alive. I drew a picture of four angels pushing me on a swing. I find this hilarious, though it’s a story that friends tell me not to repeat. And now it’s in print forever! - From: Best Foot Forward (The New Yorker)

Staying on the books theme with two related articles. First:

I am a full generation younger than Lahiri, but my Indian America is not much more diverse. There are more of us now, but in aggregate, we remain relatively homogenous, and respectability politics remain prevalent within our communities. I encounter it everywhere. Once, at a conference for immigrants and children of immigrants — all recipients of a prestigious graduate school scholarship, thanks to our high achievement — an Indian American woman asked me something like: “Don’t you feel like you shouldn’t write ‘bad’ things about our minority community when there are already so many ‘bad’ narratives about us out there?” I heard a young Black writer ask a Pulitzer Prize-winning non-white author the same question at a talk, once; I’m asked it constantly by young, desi aspiring writers. They — the outside world — hardly know who we are, the question implies. Why would you show us at our worst? - From: Good Immigrant Novels (The Drift Mag)

Second:

Another time, she tells us about her friend who does not have a shower in her apartment, writing, “Nell did not smell bad or have hair that was dirtier than any other hip young woman—as I’m sure you know by now, washing one’s hair too frequently strips it of vital natural oils, etc.—so I asked her how she was so clean.” The aside about washing one’s hair too often is the sort of thing that would be in a listicle, an Instagram reel, or a YouTube tutorial, which is why she assumes that we know about it. The narration is scattered with these sorts of irrelevant details that have nothing to do with…anything. They remind me of when I’m talking to someone and they say something for which we have no established basis: “I can’t believe [insert celebrity] died,” or “eating cured meats will raise your blood pressure.” What are you talking about? I want to ask these people. I don’t know this celebrity; I’m not even eating salami. Why do you assume that I will be aware of what you’re talking about without introducing it first? I feel like we are living in different worlds, and in a certain sense, I guess we are. In this regard, Fake Accounts is an effective account of a millennial consumed by the internet, but the question remains, does it work as a novel? - From: Against the internet novel ( 3 Quarks Daily)

I will read anything about Berlin, a new convert gobbling up the city, but this was particularly beautiful.

Meanwhile, tonight the bridges in Kreuzberg and the gardens at the former Tempelhof airport—now a vast park littered with signs and monuments to past national atrocities and containing an American baseball field as a remnant of the former US Air Force base—will be filling up with youthful drinkers and women walking hand-in-hand with their Club-Mate bottles gleaming under the bright theatrical lights outside the Sp├Ąti, or just creating an ad hoc techno party with a small wireless speaker in an illuminated bus shelter like figures out of Caravaggio. Our hosts’ Kiez near the old Wall offers this counterbalancing sense of liberated public space that is Berlin’s most endearing quality, a go-anywhere, do-anything, talk-to-everyone, dancing-on-the-abyss city with an intensely hedonistic and sexually frank twenty-four-hour vibe that isn’t fake-friendly (or even friendly at all, which also can be refreshing). Even in its expanding expat areas with brutal rents that vibe like Brooklyn East, Kreuzberg is a pretty ugly place where one feels it would be nice to live if one had the resources, but everyone tells us that this is just how things are in the summer. Locals describe how elbows and tongues sharpen in the ghastly gloom of winter at the point where the daylight ends in miserable darkness, with official sunset times before four p.m.- From Delirious Berlin (Bennington Review)

Small things I also liked:

A funny review of Millie Bobby Brown’s new ghostwritten novel. ** The man who thinks he can live forever. ** Revolution on the installment plan. *** Against newsletters. (I’ve been thinking of giving my almost defunct blog a makeover and turning it into a proper author website and I really like this one + the essay.)

And a video I loved, Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush in Medieval English.

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That’s all! Speak soon! Hopefully you live in Berlin and are coming for my launch!

xx

m

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