Editor’s Note Issue 51

by Anil Menon

In Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time, there is a narrator who rejects the new Russia in which “…a hero is someone who buys something one place and sells it down the road for three kopecks more.” This is the sort of sentiment that flatters our common sense, fed as it is on a curated diet of bad news. However, I believe uncommon sense is closer to the truth. I believe we are becoming more appreciative, not less, of activities whose utility comes from their perceived value, and not value from their utility. Like sunrises, for example. Like literary magazines, for example.

Literary magazines make no economic sense. How can Economics make sense of a venture in which so many talented people, work so insanely hard, at their own expense, to meet arbitrary deadlines and achieve self-imposed goals, so that they can deliver their product to a bemused world, for free, with no evidence of any demand for said product in the first place? And how can Economics make sense of the venture, when these same fools, stoically indifferent to how their gift was received the first time, hurry to re-enact their bizarre performance for a second, third, hundredth time, until the whole ridiculous enterprise collapses via glucose exhaustion. This chronicle could serve as a salutary moral lesson for class monitors/future CEOs everywhere, were it not for the completely unrepentant smiles on the faces of the fools in question. Labours of love make no economic sense.

The Bombay Literary Magazine’s Issue 51 is one such expression of love. My comrades— Tanuj Solanki, Pervin Saket, Kinjal Sethia, Siddharth Dasgupta, CG Salamander, Yashasvi Vacchani, Aditya Athalye— and the wonderful writers and artists whose work you will find in these pages, do what they do because they love literature. We believe you are here because you recognize this love and find it utterly rational.

Issue 51 marks a point of departure, an inauguration even, for The Bombay Literary Magazine. We have a new website, and it feels like we’ve moved into a much larger and stylish new house whose rooms we’ll have to inhabit for a while to make it our home. Starting with this issue, we will offer our contributors an honorarium. We have expanded our team, launched initiatives in new genres, and have a better idea of our audience. In this issue, we have twenty-one contributions— twelve poets, seven fiction writers, and two “visual narratives” (one photo-essay and one graphic fiction).

I should probably drop famous names at this point, humblebrag about this award-winning poet or that award-winning writer whose work graces these pages. We are indeed delighted that in this issue we have established writers and artists whose work has been justly and amply celebrated. But at TBLM we cherish all our contributors, and are therefore content to leave it to you to rank and choose, browse and savour. I will simply add that it is precisely the existence of our contributors’ works, in their own way manifestations of uncommon sense, that makes our work worthwhile.

Welcome to Issue 51.