Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of by Kirin Narayan

By Kirin Narayan

Anton Chekhov is respected as a boldly cutting edge playwright and brief tale writer—but he wrote greater than simply performs and tales. In Alive within the Writing—an interesting hybrid of writing advisor, biography, and literary analysis—anthropologist and novelist Kirin Narayan introduces readers to a couple different aspects of Chekhov: his pithy, witty observations at the writing procedure, his lifestyles as a author via debts through his associates, kin, and fanatics, and his enterprise into nonfiction via his e-book Sakhalin Island. by means of heavily getting to the folks who lived less than the appalling stipulations of the Russian penal colony on Sakhalin, Chekhov confirmed how empirical info mixed with a literary aptitude can carry readers nose to nose with far away, varied lives, enlarging a feeling of human accountability.

Highlighting this stability of the empirical and the literary, Narayan calls on Chekhov to convey new power to the writing of ethnography and inventive nonfiction alike. Weaving jointly decisions from writing via and approximately him with examples from different proficient ethnographers and memoirists, she bargains functional routines and suggestion on subject matters akin to tale, idea, position, individual, voice, and self. a brand new and full of life exploration of ethnography, Alive within the Writing indicates how the genre’s attentive, sustained reference to the lives of others can turn into a robust device for any writer.


“[Kirin Narayan] has written a short and impressive e-book approximately what it skill to be an ethnographer, and the way to do it responsibly, and better.”
(James wooden the recent Yorker)

“I was once skeptical approximately even if the writings of a nineteenth-century Russian playwright and storyteller, inspiring as they may be, may perhaps provide a lot suggestions within the extra prosaic activity of crafting educational texts. however. . . . i made a decision to learn on besides. i'm completely satisfied I did. Chekhov, no less than in Kirin Narayan’s deft arms, proved to be an incredibly good resource of recommendation for the ethnographic writer.”
(James Staples magazine of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

“Narayan’s brief ebook can simply be learn as a guide, and a few (especially people with much less event to guarantee them that the doldrums do finally move) will locate it precious for accurately that objective. however it is way greater than that. Narayan’s pleasure at assembly Chekhov around the literature-ethnography divide and the wealthy array of gorgeous ethnographic writing jointly forcefully remind us that ethnographic writing isn't easily a descriptive workout. As I learn in the course of the e-book, i used to be time and again struck via the experience of familiarity either with the dilemmas confronted by means of Narayan’s selected authors and with the exuberant outbursts with which they leaped around the constraints of a scholarly self-discipline to recapture the insights of fieldwork. If a doctoral pupil will locate useful information and encouragement the following, for a professional ethnographic author the comfort is available in the belief that there's corporation in these doubtless lonely moments while one struggles to render into understandable prose the robust presence in all fieldwork of the inchoate, the imponderable, and—what is typically the results of moral issues for the safety of one’s informants—the unsayable.”
(Michael Herzfeld American Anthropologist)

“Alive within the Writing is a gem of a ebook. Insightful and full of life to learn, it's of use to either starting and professional ethnographers, in addition to to a person who desires to increase his or her writing approximately social lifestyles. . . . encouraged by way of her personal paintings as an anthropologist and folklorist, Narayan attracts on Chekhov’s existence and his ethnographic paintings, Sakhalin Island, in addition to the works of different ethnographers, to supply an imaginitive, attractive, and hugely valuable sequence of workouts and recommendation to make ethnographic writing come alive.”
(Elizabeth nice magazine of Folklore Research)

“Chekhov’s designated skill to be a scientist and an artist, a physician and a author, to regularly be found in his writings as an observer and narrator, unfailingly compassionate, yet by no means overbearing, makes Chekhov a job version to which we will all aspire. After analyzing Narayan’s booklet, you might have considered trying to expire and skim Chekhov ahead of you take a seat to do any of your personal writing. i don't imagine Narayan might locate this frightening in any respect. possibly it really is even what she intends. i've got regularly heard it stated that you just write in addition to what you learn. Bravo to Narayan for reminding us of this important fact. She has essentially realized deeply from her muse. Her writing flickers with the entire glittering characteristics of Chekhov’s work—brevity, precision, audacity, and the will to inform issues as they're, and to take action with love, humor, and abiding interest for what makes people such forever fascinating creatures.”
(Ruth Behar present Anthropology)

“Balm for the loneliness and torment of the ethnographic author, this handbook by way of the most special bargains the person a private writer's workshop, without delay fascinating, healing, and sensible. The author's mom, her such a lot astute reader, asks: ‘A lot of individuals don't have any challenge writing. the larger factor I'd prefer to be aware of is, do you may have any strategies on easy methods to placed the entire various little bits together?’ With assistance from Anton Chekhov, her muse and obsession, Narayan does.”--George Marcus, writer of Ethnography via Thick and Thin
(George Marcus 2011-11-22)

“Narayan skillfully weaves the tale of Anton Chekhov’s stopover at to Sakhalin Island and its literary/ethnographic end result, deftly selected excerpts from modern ethnographic writing, and her personal adventure as anthropologist and instructor to create an insightful and mainly useful set of strategies, information, and routines for someone writing ethnography themselves. learn it and use it, you won’t locate something better.”

(Howard S. Becker, writer of Writing for Social Scientists)

"The sustained interplay with Chekhov's lifestyles, paintings, and writing practices is rare for a ebook dedicated to craft, yet it's a really effective and relaxing through-line. the writer weaves jointly wealthy examples from anthropological texts, and those examples collaborate fantastically along with her inquiry into Chekhov's artistry and with the writing workouts she offers. dependent of their simplicity and sensibleness, the workouts invite readers to test, they usually support translate theoretical techniques into issues that writers of all degrees share."

(Michele Morano 2011-11-22)

“With a deft contact and an not going muse (Anton Chekhov), this consummate author and reader of ethnographies has became her deep appreciation of the craft and its promise right into a reward for anthropologists. Narayan bargains types of and types for ethnographic writing that may encourage us. i'm desirous to train the publication, yet simply as wanting to research from it.”--Lila Abu-Lughod, writer of Writing Women’s Worlds

(Lila Abu-Lughod 2011-11-22)

“Alive within the Writing is just a pride to learn. It walks its speak. it's wealthy in routines to boost an ethnographic writer's abilities and stunning in its tales of Chekhov as ethnographer. Narayan's magnificent guide for writers (and readers) of ethnography in addition to inventive nonfiction can be a cornerstone for much-needed classes in writing culture.”--Renato Rosaldo, coauthor of tradition & Truth
(Renato Rosaldo 2011-11-22)

“Wise, lucid, loving—this guidebook of savvy illuminations will teach and encourage scholars, lecturers, and all these misplaced and located within the writing process.”--James Clifford, writer of at the Edges of Anthropology

(James Clifford 2011-11-22)

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Additional resources for Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov

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Describe a place at a particular time of day and the effects of this setting on social life. Moving from a tropical day, consider the far extreme: the cold in the Siberian taiga. In The Reindeer People, Piers Vitebsky follows the close association between the indigenous Eveny people and their reindeer in the wake of Soviet policies that transformed their nomadic ways of life. Going on a winter hunt with a retired herder, he mentions dressing in up to fifteen layers before venturing from the tent.

India’s rivers, for example, are mostly seen by Hindus as goddesses to be propitiated, however polluted the waters may run. ” Her book Do Glaciers Listen? shows how Athapaskan and Tlingit stories about glaciers emphasize their humanlike characteristics: They respond to humans and especially to smells when meat is fried nearby. They are also quick to hear and to take offence when humans demonstrate cockiness by making jokes at their expense. ” Glaciers in these accounts are thought to sometimes show their own fierce agency as they observe and interact with humans.

His body, unwashed, lice-ridden, and flatulent, is addicted to cheap tobacco. Bread, meat, dried fish—which usually he himself salted in prison— crumbs, chunks, bones, and leftover shchi all go into his mess tin. He squashes bedbugs with his fingers on the sleeping platform. All this makes for fetid, dank, and sour-smelling prison air. Notice how Chekhov has expanded on his earlier observations to precisely itemize the sources of bad smell: sheepskin, leather, tar, dirty underwear, old rags, sweaty foot wraps, unwashed flesh, cheap tobacco, farts, bread, meat, salt fish, shchi (cabbage soup), bugs.

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