Thursday, January 08, 2009

I'd Demand a Recount If I Were You!

I've met lots of famous people over the years. Mostly professional "sports figures": athletes, coaches, broadcasters and the like. I've photographed them, interviewed them, talked hockey with them... but I've never carried on a continuing correspondence with any of them. These were all random encounters -- or at best scheduled encounters and I very much doubt that any of them remembered my name five minutes after I was gone.

So to have a (decidedly irregular but) ongoing dialogue with an internationally published novelist is a little different from that. But not any different from a dialogue I'd have with someone else, someone not-famous. Because there is absolutely nothing about Peggy Payne that says, "Look at me, I'm a famous author!" She could be your neighbor, your bridge partner or just the lady you recognize from the PTA. And she may very well be all of those.

But she's also got a(t least one) NY Times Notable Book to her credit, which to me is kind of a big deal.

I first encountered her writing when she wrote a piece for the local paper on the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. That led me to her blog and that led me to her latest book Sister India.
Curious about this author from my own hometown who was apparently quite well known in certain circles, I found it, ordered it, read it and loved it. You should get your own. I've even done the hard (finding it) part for ya. All you gotta do is order it and read it...

The book is set in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi (otherwise known as Banaras, Benares, Kashi and probably other names I'm not aware of) which by itself was enough to draw me in. I've been fascinated by the city since seeing L.C. Singh's Banaras - A Mystic Love Story, so I naturally associate Peggy with that movie in general, and with one song from it specifically.

So why bring all this up today? You might have guessed it already. Yes, Peggy's celebrating a milestone today and since she announced it on her own blog yesterday I can tell you she's celebrating her 60th birthday today without feeling guilty about it. Peggy, I never would have guessed 60. I might not have even guessed 50. But however many years you have behind you, I hope the ones in front of your are richly rewarding and that we'll have many more of your literary works to enjoy in those years.

This song and the scenery behind it will always remind me of Sister India, and by extension that means it'll always remind me of you. So I couldn't think of a more fitting celebration of this occasion than this clip. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.

and many, many more!

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SandyCarlson said...

A book recommendation from you counts. I'll have a look at that one. And happy birthday, Peggy!

kenju said...

I enjoyed that video. That child has a good voice.

I already wished Peggy a happy one - now I'll go and buy the book - since you recommended it, Mojo. Thanks.

Peggy Payne said...

Wow, Mojo, what an extraordinarily generous post. Thank you! and Sister India thanks you! You've added extra fireworks to my Diwali in the City of Light.

I loved seeing that film clip with Varanasi and the perfect music. It feels especially meaningful to me because a chant of Om Namah Shivaya was a central piece of a stage production of Sister India in Minneapolis a few years ago.

Seeing these five minutes of Varanasi brings back so much.

I do thank you. Bahut bahut dhanyawad!

Daryl said...

Happy Birthday Peggy ... and I am putting her book on my list to read

Peggy Payne said...

Thanks, Daryl.