16 May 2008

Believe It or Not

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:23pm

A bottle of beer may cost half a billion dollars; by next week it could be a billion. Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reached a terrifying 355,000% in March, with prices doubling roughly once a week. It is probably much higher now. In a vain attempt to keep up, the country has just issued a Z$500m banknote, which is worth some $2 (or less by the time you reach the end of this sentence). The billion-dollar note is surely on its way. After a decade of recession Zimbabwe is reaching all sorts of extremes: it has the fastest-contracting peacetime economy; its people are fleeing both repression and chronic hunger; life-expectancy is plummeting to the mid-20s. Despite all this, Robert Mugabe, the incumbent, expects to win a run-off presidential election on June 27th.

- Source: The Economist

Just the other day, I read how North Koreans (the poor ones, though), on the brink of a severe famine due to food crisis, have started trying tree-bark and grass for food. Although the inaction on the part of the government is understandable - due to its rigid foreign policies and cold international relations - yet it confounded me that situations test humans to the limit. All that superfluous gibberish about "collapse of barriers" notwithstanding, the world is still a definitely divided, apathetically disconnected place.

There certainly are quite a few "believe it or not" things happening in the big, insane, and horrible world out there! Only, they are rather chilling than exciting!

13 May 2008

Looking for BoB

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:32pm

The race for the Best of the Booker is into the final lap. Of the 41, the following survived.

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road
Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda
JM Coetzee's Disgrace
JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur
Nadine Gordimer's The Conversationalist
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

I'd have doubted the literary sensibilities of the jury if Disgrace hadn't made it to the shortlist. Having won the Booker of Bookers, Midnight's Children is a strong contender. Rushdie has an advantage in that he has a stronger presence in media and is more famous among the circle of average readers for other reasons too. Now that the voting is open to the public to decide the winner, one has more reasons to believe Rushdie will win. For, most Indians will vote for him, driven by the obsession to flaunt the success of an 'Indian'.

However, I put my money on Disgrace. This masterpiece should win by a mile.