Friday, July 22, 2005

Getting famous in one's 70s

The late Nirad C. Chaudhuri, who had shot to fame with his first book, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, used to call himself 'the youngest writer' of India when his memoirs had come out. At that point of time, he was in his 60s. Why did he appropriate the 'the youngest writer' title for himself? He had just published his first book! That was his logic.

I just read about William Maxwell, an American writer, who got noticed only after he came out with his sixth book. He was in his 70s then. If you have lost hope, read this story.

Here is the dope on him from IHT:

In 1980 a slim novel appeared that introduced a "new" writer to the American public. It had a deceptively casual title, "So Long, See You Tomorrow," yet it quickly became a book many readers fervently loved and pressed on their friends. The author, William Maxwell, was in his early 70s and this was his sixth novel, not his first. From 1936 to 1976 he had been a fiction editor at The New Yorker, working with (and often befriending) writers like John Updike, Flannery O'Connor, J.D. Salinger, Vladimir Nabokov and Eudora Welty. And in 1980, Welty presented him with the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the best novel of the last five years.

Maxwell's new readers could scarcely know that he had been rehearsing elements of the same painful story since 1937, when he brought out his second novel, "They Came Like Swallows." Introducing his collected stories, "All the Days and Nights," in 1994, Maxwell recalled boarding a freighter for Martinique back in 1933, searching for new experiences to write about: "I had no idea that three-quarters of the material I would need for the rest of my writing life was already at my disposal. My father and mother. My brothers. The cast of larger-than-life-size characters - affectionate aunts, friends of the family, neighbors white and black - that I was presented with when I came into the world."

So, there is hope!


bibliobibuli said...

Just reviewed a novel "Once Upon a Time in Malaya" by first time writer Chong Seck Chim aged 81! It should appear Sunday after next in The Star.

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks Sharon. The review should be an interesting read. Look forward to reading it!

desiderata said...

Hi Zafar:

So near, yet so far, arent we -- Malaysians and Singaporeans?

Toured to your blog via bibiobibuli (tongue twister here! would've made a sp mistake if she had not precede me in Comments!;)).

Hope to return here for more, as I'm also an Writer-Aspirant; earns writing as a journalist, but that's a diff cup of "poison"!

Zafar Anjum said...

Dear desiderata (interesting name there), thanks for dropping by. It is good know other aspirant writers.