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

By Kirin Narayan

Anton Chekhov is respected as a boldly leading edge playwright and brief tale writer—but he wrote greater than simply performs and tales. In Alive within the Writing—an exciting hybrid of writing advisor, biography, and literary analysis—anthropologist and novelist Kirin Narayan introduces readers to a couple different facets of Chekhov: his pithy, witty observations at the writing technique, his existence as a author via bills through his buddies, relatives, and enthusiasts, and his enterprise into nonfiction via his booklet 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 deliver 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 deliver new power to the writing of ethnography and artistic nonfiction alike. Weaving jointly choices from writing by means of and approximately him with examples from different proficient ethnographers and memoirists, she bargains functional workouts and suggestion on subject matters equivalent to tale, concept, position, individual, voice, and self. a brand new and full of life exploration of ethnography, Alive within the Writing exhibits how the genre’s attentive, sustained reference to the lives of others can develop into a robust instrument for any writer.


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

“I was once skeptical approximately no matter if the writings of a nineteenth-century Russian playwright and storyteller, inspiring as they may be, may possibly supply a lot guidance within the extra prosaic job of crafting educational texts. however. . . . i made a decision to learn on besides. i'm happy I did. Chekhov, not less than in Kirin Narayan’s deft arms, proved to be an incredibly stable resource of recommendation for the ethnographic writer.”
(James Staples magazine of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

“Narayan’s brief booklet can simply be learn as a handbook, and a few (especially people with much less event to guarantee them that the doldrums do finally go) will locate it worthwhile for accurately that goal. however it is way greater than that. Narayan’s pleasure at assembly Chekhov around the literature-ethnography divide and the wealthy array of lovely ethnographic writing jointly forcefully remind us that ethnographic writing isn't easily a descriptive workout. As I learn during the e-book, i used to be many times struck by way of the feel of familiarity either with the dilemmas confronted by way 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 functional advice and encouragement right here, for a professional ethnographic author the comfort is available in the belief that there's corporation in these likely lonely moments whilst one struggles to render into understandable prose the strong presence in all fieldwork of the inchoate, the imponderable, and—what is usually the results of moral issues for the security of one’s informants—the unsayable.”
(Michael Herzfeld American Anthropologist)

“Alive within the Writing is a gem of a booklet. Insightful and full of life to learn, it's of use to either starting and pro ethnographers, in addition to to an individual who desires to increase his or her writing approximately social existence. . . . encouraged via her personal paintings as an anthropologist and folklorist, Narayan attracts on Chekhov’s lifestyles and his ethnographic paintings, Sakhalin Island, in addition to the works of different ethnographers, to supply an innovative, enticing, and hugely worthwhile sequence of routines and suggestion to make ethnographic writing come alive.”
(Elizabeth high quality magazine of Folklore Research)

“Chekhov’s specified skill to be a scientist and an artist, a physician and a author, to continuously be found in his writings as an observer and narrator, unfailingly compassionate, yet by no means overbearing, makes Chekhov a task version to which we will all aspire. After analyzing Narayan’s e-book, it's your decision to expire and browse Chekhov earlier than you take a seat to do any of your individual writing. i don't imagine Narayan might locate this scary in any respect. might be it's even what she intends. i've got continually heard it acknowledged that you just write in addition to what you learn. Bravo to Narayan for reminding us of this important fact. She has basically discovered deeply from her muse. Her writing flickers with the entire glittering traits 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 perpetually attention-grabbing creatures.”
(Ruth Behar present Anthropology)

“Balm for the loneliness and torment of the ethnographic author, this guide by means of some of the most distinctive bargains the consumer a private writer's workshop, immediately captivating, healing, and useful. The author's mom, her so much astute reader, asks: ‘A lot of individuals haven't any challenge writing. the larger factor I'd prefer to comprehend is, do you've gotten any recommendations on the best way to placed all of the diverse little bits together?’ With the aid of 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 consequence, deftly selected excerpts from modern ethnographic writing, and her personal event as anthropologist and instructor to create an insightful and notably priceless set of ideas, guidance, and routines for somebody 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 existence, paintings, and writing practices is rare for a e-book dedicated to craft, yet it's a truly 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 routines she offers. dependent of their simplicity and sensibleness, the routines invite readers to test, and so they aid translate theoretical options into matters 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 present for anthropologists. Narayan bargains versions of and types for ethnographic writing that would encourage us. i'm desirous to educate the publication, yet simply as wanting to study 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 strengthen an ethnographic writer's abilities and dazzling in its tales of Chekhov as ethnographer. Narayan's very good 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 coach and encourage scholars, academics, 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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Chekhov died of complications from tuberculosis when he was only forty-four. I look back on the many months that I have felt driven to learn more about Chekhov and how, unexpectedly, this helped me write the book you now hold. Earlier, I suggested a prompt about the central insights you’d like your work to carry. I end this chapter with a more open-ended invitation to honor the force of your own curiosity. Whether your work is driven more by story or by argument, whether you are writing within an established genre or venturing into a new form, consider the questions that motivate you as you select, conjecture about, and arrange your observations.

He arrived in the northern part of the island in July, sailed to the south in September, and started on his journey home in October, traveling by ship through Hong Kong and Singapore toward Ceylon, and then on to Odessa. In those three months, Chekhov gathered an astonishing amount of material. He produced statistics on each settlement. He printed up ten thousand cards for a makeshift census of the men, women, and children to whom he was allowed access (he was officially forbidden to speak to political prisoners).

As a doctor, he recognizes its similarity to that of hydrogen sulfide and ammoniac. But first, he locates the smells in human practices. The prisoners return from work with wet clothes and dirty boots, hang up some clothes, and bunch up others as makeshift mattresses: His sheepskin coat reeks of mutton; his footwear smells of leather and tar. His underwear, permeated with bodily fluids, wet and unwashed, is tossed into a heap along with old sacks and mildewed rags. His footcloths have a suffocating reek of sweat.

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