The Meagre Tarmac

The Meagre Tarmac

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by Clark Blaise
     
 

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Shortlisted for the 2011 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominee

Longlisted for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award

"Clark Blaise’s brilliantly imagined The Meagre Tarmac is a novel in short-story form, warmly intimate, startling in its quick jumps and revelations, a portrait of individuals

Overview

Shortlisted for the 2011 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominee

Longlisted for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award

"Clark Blaise’s brilliantly imagined The Meagre Tarmac is a novel in short-story form, warmly intimate, startling in its quick jumps and revelations, a portrait of individuals for whom we come to care deeply – and a portrait of an Indo-American way of life that shimmers before our eyes with the rich and compelling detail for which Clark Blaise’s fiction is renowned .… The Meagre Tarmac is a remarkable accomplishment."—Joyce Carol Oates

An Indo-American Canterbury Tales, The Meagre Tarmac explores the places where tradition, innovation, culture, and power meet with explosive force. It begins with Vivek Waldekar, who refused to attend his father’s funeral because he was “trying to please an American girl who thought starting a fire in his father’s body too gross a sacrilege to contemplate.” It ends with Pranab Dasgupta, the Rockefeller of India, who can only describe himself as “‘a very lonely, very rich, very guilty immigrant.’” And in between is a cluster of remarkable characters, incensed by the conflict between personal desire and responsibility, who exhaust themselves in pursuit of the miraculous. Fearless and ferociously intelligent, these stories are vintage Blaise, whose outsider’s view of the changing heart of America has always been ruthless and moving and tender.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Clark Blaise
Award Recipient from the Academy of Arts & Letters
Officer of the Order of Canada

“The elegant stories in The Meagre Tarmac constitute a warning of sorts … the old tables are turning.”—Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books

"Blaise is probably the greatest living Canadian writer most Canadians have never heard of."
Quill & Quire

"On the leading edge of world literature."
—John Barber, Globe and Mail

"The Meagre Tarmac is a naked instance of appropriation of voice—a literary felony justified in this case by the results."
—Philip Marchand, National Post

"Not to be forgotten ... is Clark Blaise's collection The Meagre Tarmac, wherein a writer's writer excelled himself and got more attention than he has received in a long time, though still not as much as he deserves."—Ian McGillis, Gazette

"You know it's going to be a stellar year for fiction when Clark Blaise publishes something. The Meagre Tarmac ... demonstrates yet again that Blaise is one of the continent's master authors."—Uptown

"What holds the collection together is Blaise's mastery of the short story, his ability to give us a whole personality and the sensuous particularity of lived experiences in a handful of pages."
—Steven Hayward, Globe and Mail

"Blaise meticulously conveys a sense of connection and isolation in the lives of Indian immigrants who are detached from their former lives and country, 'untethered to any earth,' and yet are shape and guided by that absence ... Such connection is beautifully contrasted by the way the opening stories fracture a single family's narrative into multiple perspectives, illustrating the divide that separates people from one another and rendering it more tangible than any geographical border. In the end, The Meagre Tarmac is like a slow exclamation caught halfway between a sigh and laughter, between hope and despair, connection and dissonance."—Canadian Literature

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781926845159
Publisher:
Biblioasis
Publication date:
06/07/2011
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.51(d)

Meet the Author


Clark Blaise (1940-), Canadian and American, is the author of 20 books of fiction and nonfiction. A longtime advocate for the literary arts in North America, Blaise has taught writing and literature at Emory, Skidmore, Columbia, NYU, Sir George Williams, UC-Berkeley, SUNY-Stony Brook, and the David Thompson University Centre. In 1968, he founded the postgraduate Creative Writing Program at Concordia University; he after went on to serve as the Director of the International Writing Program at Iowa (1990-1998), and as President of the Society for the Study of the Short Story (2002-present). Internationally recognized for his contributions to the field, Blaise has received an Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy (2003), and in 2010 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Blaise now divides his time between New York and San Francisco, where he lives with his wife, American novelist Bharati Mukherjee.

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The Meagre Tarmac 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SAHARATEA More than 1 year ago
"Despite external signs of satisfaction, good health, a challenging job, the love and support of family and friends, no depressions or mood swings, no bad habits, I would not call myself happy. I am well-adjusted. We are all extremely well-adjusted. I believe my situation is not uncommon among successful immigrants of my age and background." Clark Blaise has created a short story collection (a few of which are linked) that explores the world of first-generations immigrants from India who now reside in the West. Most are financially successful, and are often working in the business sector of computers and banking. Extensive education in India and in London makes allows many of these immigrants to surpass the abilities of their American co-workers. Yet as the quote above reveals, high wages and business savvy do not ensure happiness. Ties to India and family remain firm, even though their new culture has a hard time understanding the connection. A sense of family and standing within the family is underscored in many of these stories, and much of this is due to two factors: the traditions of inheritance and arranged marriage. In the case of inheritance, oldest sons seem blessed by getting most of the family wealth. To be a younger brother means continually fighting for a fair share. In many cases, extended family live together in India; sometimes, one part of each family has just a room of their own, and are subject to the whims of the senior son. In one story, a successful and mild physician at work turns into a plotting madman at home, scheming to get rid of the older brother by lawsuit or darker means. Arranged marriages are a fascinating part of the story, especially in that even a very successful Indian businessman can feel a need to replicate the tradition and marry one of his "own" despite numerous opportunities to marry anyone he wants. Children too, of first-generation parents have their own battles. Raised in the US, they don't understand the traditions while their parents desperately want to keep their children out of harm's way. They look back to India as a place of innocence and control. In one story, a successful Pac Bell engineer is worried by his ice-skating progidy daughter (who has her own secrets). The sure answer to him is for them to return to India, but her objections raise entirely new issues for the family to deal with. Many of the stories remind me of the style of Ha Jin's A Good Fall, which dealt with Chinese immigrants in New York. Respectability and behavior are far more important to many immigrants than they are to long-time citizens. Another story has a hugely successful banker seeking a Parsi bride, even being middle-aged, his mother is still nagging at him to find the proper Parsi wife that will honor the family, a tough search given only about 50,000 Parsis are left. His search leaves him questioning his own beliefs and what exactly makes for a solid relationship. Partition, castes, progress and family honor are all explored in this fascinating book that I wish had been longer. Blaise ends many stories with a question...leaving the reader to imagine the ending. I didn't mind that, but I'd love to see some of these characters again. Especially intriguing is how many of the immigrants return home regularly, offering financial assistance and with an open mind to permanently return.