Anu_kumarAnuradha Kumar is one of those rare writers who straddle the worlds of writing for children and adults with equal ease. Today, when the publishing market is competitive and segmented and subdivided like never before, finding success in more than one genre is not easy–and the fact that Anu sails successfully in more than one genre is a testament to her huge talent. Yet she started out without much ambition, as she mentions in this interview with Kitaab. “I started writing stories when I found myself bored in the corporate world, then submitted these to online magazines and then I just wanted to do more,” she says.

Anu’s first book was In Search Of A Raja And Other Stories published by Writers Workshop. This was followed by The Dollmakers’ Island and Letters for Paul. Her most recent novel is, It Takes a Murder (Hachette). In between all these novels, she has published many successful books for children. Eminent author and scholar Pankaj Mishra has described her as a writer to watch. Read this interview and you will know why.

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25 January 2013

On the second day of JLF 2013, I attended two sessions: one by Faramerz Dabhoiwala on The Origins of Sex and another by Jawed Akhtar on Bollywood and the National Narrative.

Faramerz Daboiwala on The Origins of Sex

TheoriginsofsexFaramerz was in conversation with William Dalrymple. Dalrymple introduced the teacher at Oxford in most glowing terms and then took a back seat.

Faramerz made the following main points, in relation to his book, The Origins of Sex. The book was based on his PhD thesis and portrays the history of sexuality and sexual mores in the last two hundred years.

– Sexual revolution did not start in the 1960s. It started in 18th century England.

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24 January 2013

On the first day, I attended three sessions: the Art of the Short Story, Ismat and Annie, and the Novel of the Future. I did not take any notes. I wrote down the following the next morning (from whatever I could remember). If some statements sound weird and don’t make sense to the readers, I take the blame for sloppiness and apologize in advance.

We don’t tell novels, we tell short stories

The Short story: The Art of the Short Story panel had Nicholas Hogg, Richard Beard and Yiyun Li and Anjum Hasan was the moderator.

JLF
JLF

There was a time when India barely had any literary festivals. There were readings and book launches, there were mushairas and kavi sammelans but not literary festivals—it is a western import like the ‘novel’.

Just as there is an epidemic of novel-writing in India these days, there is also an outbreak of literary festivals in the country. Every city worth its salt has a lit fest going on and writers, publishers and readers aren’t exactly complaining. In India, when we like something, we tend to go overboard. The same is true of lit fests. But I hope we stop at the city level and don’t take literary festivals to the mohalla level. A Kirti Nagar literary festival or a Jorbagh lit fest does not sound right. A reading group would be much more appropriate at that level.

I was recently in Chennai and one of my friends told me that his daughter who is in third standard wants to become a writer. That’s great, I said. When I was in school, I could barely get my head around what was happening in the classroom, let alone think of becoming a writer. India’s new generation will take the country to another level. Who will not welcome such glad tidings about India?

On my way to the Jaipur literature festival (JLF) this January, I was pondering why was there so much growing interest in reading and writing in India now? Why so many literary festivals? While this is a welcome pandemic, there must be some robust reasons behind it.

Writer Ma Thida. (Thiri Lu/The Myanmar Times)
Writer Ma Thida. (Thiri Lu/The Myanmar Times)

In 2009, writer Ma Thida attended Brown University in the United States as a fellow of the International Writers Project.

During her stay the university organised an event called There Will Still Be Light: A Freedom to Write Literary Festival, and declared their plans to invite Bengali writer Amitav Ghosh, author of the novel The Glass Palace.

Ma Thida suggested that well-known Myanmar novelist Nay Win Myint also be invited, but when the organisers tried to find information about the writer on the internet they came up empty. There was simply no information about Nay Win Myint that had been posted online in the English language.

This was despite the fact that in his home country he had published nearly 200 short stories, as well as novels, travelogues, translations and more. He had also won the National Literary Prize in 2007.

Krishna Udayasankar is a Singapore-based Indian writer and Govinda, Book 1 of the Aryavarta Chronicles (a trilogy) is her first published novel. According to her blog, The Aryavarta Chronicles are a series of fast-paced novels; tales of adventure, conspiracy and politics, that delve beyond familiar Epic India lore.

Born in Bangalore, India, and educated in India and Singapore, Krishna currently teaches strategic management at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

In this interview with Kitaab, she talks about her novel, her writing process and what writing means to her.

‘Govinda’ is your first novel and part of a trilogy. Did you have to struggle as a first time writer?

Actually, the Aryavarta Chronicles is a series that extends beyond three books. Each novel, though set in the empire of Aryavarta, has its own story arc and plotlines. The process had its own challenges, though it was made easy, even enjoyable, because I have loved what I was doing!

In my not-very-humble opinion, I think the biggest struggle a first-time writer faces is to reach a point of no-return, a point where you are committed to writing, come what may. Not that the struggles end after that, but then they are not very different from what every other writer faces, first-timer or otherwise. At the end of the day, the stories we tell are bigger than us and faith in those tales is never faith misplaced.

At a more pragmatic level, there is a whole world of events that have to take place between writing a book and getting it published. However, I’ve been extremely fortunate, having had a whole host of people from wonderful agents to friends, mentors, my publishers and above all, my family, to support me. So it felt a whole lot easier than it probably was.

Many cities are founded by gods, heroes, conquerors but Karachi emerges from nothing, from stories. There are stories about Ram and Sita sojourning in a verdant cove that would become a canton of the city. There are stories about a wandering Sufi who settled by a creek and in time the lice he shook from his head metamorphosed into crocodiles. There are stories about some natural calamity, an earthquake perhaps, that compelled the inhabitants of nearby bastis to populate the scrim of coast on the Arabian Sea that is now populated by some 18.2 million souls officially (21 million unofficially).