Talk:Manil Suri

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Request edit[edit]

I am the author Manil Suri, and have been updating some entries on my page. (I used to sign in as Jacobian59, but decided to start a new account under my own name.)

On Jan 11, I updated honors received by my books and also listed some other recent activities that have got attention in the public sphere. I would like to make one more change to the page, but decided I should consult with an editor since it is about myself. This concerns the following recent addition to my page:

In December 2013, Suri won the "Bad Sex in Fiction" prize for comparing sex to a nuclear reaction in the City of Devi.[5]

I would like to first of all remove a factual inaccuracy: "for comparing sex to a nuclear reaction" (the scene talks about supernovas, which are star formations, not nuclear reactions). Since there is no specific *reason* for the award, I would like to just say "for a sex scene" or more accurately, "for the climactic sex scene." I have explained my own intentions for the scene in an article in the Washington Post

To preserve neutrality, I would also propose to present the opposing viewpoint - of critics who have actually praised the sex writing in the book. There is a quote from the Times Literary Supplement in the referred article [5] according to which the sex is "unfettered, quirky, beautiful, tragic and wildly experimental" Also, the review for "The City of Devi" in the Wall Street Journal ( says: "Mr. Suri sensitively and skillfully traverses the many variations of lovemaking that can result from a party of three, and the novel's sex scenes, which stand in buoyant contrast to the threat of nuclear extinction, bring out his best writing—he captures the insecurity, the curiosity and even the comedy of those vulnerable moments without stooping to prurience."

The Times Literary Supplement review is not available online (at least I could not find it). However, it is mentioned in the article [5]. I was wondering whether the following statement would be appropriate.

In December 2013, Suri won the "Bad Sex in Fiction" prize for the climactic sex scene in the City of Devi.[5] However, reviewers in the Times Literary Supplement [5], and Wall Street Journal [1] have praised the sex writing.

Should some of the Times quote be included as a counterbalance? Should the Washington Post article be also quoted after the first sentence? I'm wary of focusing too much attention on this one topic, since it would overwhelm everything else in my entry. Would welcome suggestions.

  • Some tweaks. Minor point, not a big deal. Drmies (talk) 17:52, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Some commentary on edits[edit]

Manilsuri, you are referring to these edits. I don't really want to explain every little bit of it, so I'll pick a couple, and you can ask me if you have questions about things I didn't explain. This is pretty important. The original phrasing suggested that the journal Contemporary Literature had awarded that honor--that's not the case. The praise comes from and that's not much of a reliable source for such things. In addition, this is not the kind of praise that should be in the lead: too much like puffery. Same goes for the Flavorwire reference. Flavorwire is a blog, and while it's not bad (I've cited it myself elsewhere) it's not the kind of thing that the lead should play up, per MOS:INTRO. But you see what I've done: I moved that content to the body of the article. In this (and the next edit, I think) I removed wikilinks for countries and nationalities--per WP:OVERLINK, basically. Nice shirt, by the way, in that headshot. And you may be wondering about this one: at the heart of it is the need for secondary verification--not necessarily to verify that "it is true" (that's probably clear) but to verify that it's worth mentioning. Per WP:FART, not everything someone has done in their life is worth mentioning, and in this case the subject is notable for having written books--not for stuff with numbers. If a reliable secondary source mentions these op-eds etc., then it's probably worth including. Without it, not so much, lest the article be turned into a resume (many of our biographies are, unfortunately).

I hope this helps, at least for now--I got to get back to making dinner. Please ping me on my talk page if you have any other questions. Thanks, Drmies (talk) 22:27, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

My questions on commentary[edit]

Drmies: Hope dinner was nice. Thanks for the explanation, and for taking the time to do the edits. I'm fine with the (didn't actually know there was a journal called Contemporary Literature). I noticed other authors often quote reviews for their books - which I have refrained from - is that recommended? (For instance, The Age of Shiva got a great review in the New York Times). My aim is not puffery, but rather to have info available: I do give a fair amount of talks, and ninety percent of people who do introductions only refer to Wikipedia.

I wanted to ask you a question about this edit. The Times Literary Supplement is by subscription only, so it's not possible to give a link to the article. For verification purposes, here is a link to the cutting I was mailed (see last paragraph, where the reviewer praises the sex scenes in the book): I don't feel comfortable leaving this cutting on the web indefinitely. I wonder how Wikipedia handles verification in such cases, where something is published but not available easily online? (That's why I gave the BBC reference I did, which didn't pass the independence test - because it was online.)

Also, the deleted reference to my field of mathematical research being finite elements was put in by a previous moderator, not me. (I really don't care if this info is in there - but when I'm giving a talk at a book festival or something, hosts love to scare the audience with that tidbit from my Wikipedia page, so it is useful.) But I do care about the The New York Times op-ed on math. It achieved number one emailed article status on their website, and quickly received their maximum number of replies of 360. It has received a good deal of attention on the web (try Googling "How to fall in Love with math Manil Suri") so I do feel it deserves a mention. It also ties in with the novel I am currently writing, that combines math and fiction, called "The Godfather of Numbers." (Perhaps I should mention the title of this book? Since for many years, someone had listed on my page the names of my two previous books before I had written them.) Advice would be appreciated.

Anyway, thanks again for your help. Manilsuri (talk) 02:40, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

  • Manil, if I may, it wasn't bad, thanks. The kids were picky as always, but that's not good novel material. Let me say, first of all, that in editing the article I was not interested in who put what in. COI editing is getting all kinds of exposure these days, and obviously you can't, for instance, want an article edited in hopes of achieving a certain effect among readers and hosts. But for me, as an outsider, it doesn't matter who wrote what: I look only at our guidelines and try to use good judgment in applying it.

    Now--that TLS review, how does that relate to the diff you linked? It looks like a valid review and should be brought in, and yeah, you should take it down since it's probably a copyright violation. The math interest actually seems mentioned in one of the "Further reading" links and I'll have a look at it. In addition, if, as you say, the NYT piece was so popular and it made the press, so to speak, and if any of the references found are of RS status, then it can be brought in that way. Are any of the references reliable enough, you think? Finally, and I apologize for going in no particular order, references don't need to be online. Yes, a review for the Shiva book should be brought in. You can always drop those links here and ask other editors to stick them in. I'll be glad to have a look when I have a moment and try to improve it some--my agent will tell you where to wire the $20. Thanks, Drmies (talk) 04:33, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

  • I brought the TLS review in. Drmies (talk) 04:37, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Drmies for bringing TLS in, and also for editing the lead to my entry - it makes a lot more sense now.

The NYT math piece was reprinted in condensed form by Reader's Digest which I think points to its popularity. It also got me two radio interviews WILS Michigan (Sep 17, 2013) and The Joy Cardin Show (Wisconsin Public Radio, Sep 24, 2013). (Someone even took the trouble to translate the article into Spanish:

"The Age of Shiva" review in the NYT is here: ("Sweepingly ambitious, captivating ... Affirms [Suri's] position as a writer worth serious attention" is the blurb extracted for my book cover).

And two recent literary award nominations for "The City of Devi": Lambda Literary Award Finalist ("Gay General Fiction" category) and also Bisexual Book Award Finalist ("Bisexual Fiction" category)

Waiting for the address on where to wire the $20 -- if I don't hear from your agent, will add it to annual Wikipedia contribution. Manilsuri (talk) 01:55, 24 April 2014 (UTC)