Category Archives: Interview

“Words were inadequate to pile sensation upon contrarian sensation!” – Brinda Bose

Priyanka Tripathi, in conversation with author and academician Brinda Bose where she takes us through her writing journey, what writing means to her and shares her inspiration behind it all.

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“Beauty and creativity coexisted with all the difficult realities of the city!” – Taran N Khan

Team Kitaab is in conversation with Taran N. Khan, the author of Shadow City (Published by Penguin India, 2020) where we discuss Kabul, her love for the city and her fascination for it which led to this book.

Taran N. Khan is a journalist and non-fiction writer based in Mumbai. Her writing has appeared in GuernicaAl JazeeraBerfroisHimal SouthasianGulf News and Dagsavisen, as well as in leading publications in India like The CaravanOpenThe Hindu and Scroll.in. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Logan Non-Fiction Program, Jan Michalski Foundation and Pro Helvetia. From 2006 to 2013, Khan spent long periods living and working in Kabul. Shadow City is her first book.

Taran N. Khan’s Shadow City is a fascinating read on Kabul. Interestingly, the first thing, Khan, was told when she reached Kabul, was to never venture for a walk. And that is exactly what she did- explore the city through walks, which further led to this book.

From “I have a complicated relationship with walking…” to writing a book on exploring an entire city through a series of walks. Has writing this book redefined walks/walking for her, we wondered. To which Khan says, “The book was shaped in part by this complicated relationship, which is still evolving. During the recent lockdown in Mumbai, for instance, I was not able to walk as often as I used to. When I did go out, it felt like a different terrain. Emptied of its crowds, the bare bones of the metropolis emerged, and I could see features that had always existed, but had been invisible to me.”

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Someday we may have a common anthem for our planet!- Interview with poet Abhay K

Poetry is the language of the universe.

In a world where chaos reigns in so many forms, poetry is a solace for many. At times, compared to magic, poetry heals and comforts in strange ways. Poets conjure magic with their words and captivate the readers with their ability to capture the finer nuances of life in their poems. One of the many poets whose work continues to inspire a lot of readers is Abhay K.

Abhay K. (b.1980) is the author of a memoir and eight poetry collections including The Seduction of Delhi,The Eight-Eyed Lord of Kathmandu, The Prophecy of Brasilia and The Alphabets of Latin America. He is the editor of CAPITALS, New Brazilian Poems, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems and The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poems. His poems have been published in over 60 literary journals across the world including Poetry Salzburg Review.

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Rejoicing Past & Present with K.K. Srivastava

Born in Gorakhpur in 1960, K.K. Srivastava did his Masters in Economics from Gorakhpur University in 1980 and joined Civil Services in 1983. Author of three volumes of poetry: Ineluctable Stillness (2005), An Armless Hand Writes (2008; 2012) and Shadows of the Real (2012), his poems have been translated into Hindi (Andhere Se Nikli Kavitayen—VANI PRAKASHAN ,2017) and his book Shadows of the Real into Russian by veteran Russian poet Adolf Shvedchikov. His fourth book Soliloquy of a Small Town Uncivil Servant, a literary non-fiction was published in March 2019 by Rupa Publications, New Delhi. Currently he is working as Additional Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General in the office of Comptroller & Auditor General of India. 

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Narratives on Nazism and Nationalism with Rahman Abbas

Critically acclaimed, award winning author Rahman Abbas needs no introduction. A Mumbai based fiction writer whose book Rohzin won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 2018, Abbas is known to captivate the readers with unique storylines and unforgettable characters. Since his debut in 2004 with Nakhalistan ki Talaash ( The Search of an Oasis), he has penned one masterpiece after another. From winning awards to having his books translated into various foreign languages, he has done it all. Rohzin was not only the first Urdu novel to be discussed in Germany, it was also adopted as a part of Urdu curriculum in INALCO. Sometime last year, he won a research grant for his next novel and travelled to Europe. 

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Dr. Aafaque Akhter shares the story of Opioid Crisis

In recent times, the ‘Opioid Crisis‘ has taken the world by storm. When one says opioid crisis, the immediate questions to come to the mind are, What is it about? What is this opioid dependency so many medical practitioners seem to be talking about?

Today, we have with us Dr. Aafaque Akhter, one of the co-authors of the book Opioid Odyssey which aims at answering all of this and much more.

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Tishani Doshi shares her journey as a poet and a novelist

Rituparna Mahapatra in conversation with Tishani Doshi

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Photos credits: Carlo Pizzati

“Girls are coming out of the woods,/ wrapped in cloaks and hoods,/ carrying iron bars and candles/ and a multitude of scars.”

“Even those girls / found naked in ditches and wells, / those forgotten in neglected attics, / and buried in riverbeds like sediments / from a different century”.

These lines from the title poem of Tishani Doshi’s book, ‘Girls are coming out of the woods‘ in 2017, came at a time when the world, India, in particular was waiting to explode & rage at the heinousness towards the ‘female’. Doshi painted an imagery about what it meant to be a woman; the dangers of being one, on a larger canvas, talking about women brutalised and murdered ; their stories refusing to be forgotten. It touched the nerve of a society attuned to not ‘speaking out’. This book went on to be shortlisted for the Ted Hughes prize in 2018.

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Will there ever be love and peace between India and Pakistan: An investigation into the hatred that binds the blood brothers

By Mitali Chakravarty

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Sameer Arshad Khatlani is an author-journalist based in New Delhi. He has been a Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times, India’s second-biggest English newspaper with a circulation of 10 million daily, since July 2018. Khatlani worked in a similar capacity with The Indian Express, India’s most influential newspaper known for its investigative journalism, until June 2018.

Born and raised in Kashmir, he began his career with the now-defunct Bangalore-based Vijay Times in 2005 as its national affairs correspondent. He joined Times of India (TOI), one of the world’s largest selling broadsheets, in 2007. Over the next nine years, he was a part of the paper’s national and international news gathering team as an Assistant Editor. Khatlani has reported from Iraq and Pakistan and covered elections and national disasters. He received a master’s degree in History from prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi.

The other side of the divide coverKhatlani is a fellow with Hawaii-based American East-West Center, which was established by the US Congress in 1960 to promote better relations and understanding with Asian, and the Pacific countries through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Penguin in 2020 published Khatlani’s first book, The Other Side of the Divide: A Journey into the Heart of Pakistan. Eminent academic and King’s college professor, Christophe Jaffrelot, has called the book ‘an erudite historical account… [that] offers a comprehensive portrait of Pakistan, including the role of the army and religion—not only Islam’. In this exclusive, Khatlani talks of his learnings from the journey into Pakistan and his extensive research on these issues.

 

Your book is about your around a week-long sojourn to Pakistan as a journalist for Times of India. What event were you covering for TOI and which year was this? Was it prior to Modi being elected the PM?

I went to Pakistan in late December 2013 for my first and last trip to that country at the invitation of the World Punjabi Conference for a peace conference in Lahore. This was five months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in the summer of 2014 and around the time my former employer—Times of India—was involved in a campaign called Aman ki Asha for promoting greater people-to-people contacts between India and Pakistan for conflict resolution. Read more

‘One World, One Faith, One Race. One Colour, Just A Different Face’ –Tagore Almeida

In conversation with Team Kitaab

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“One World, One Faith One Race, One Colour, Just A Different Face” – this is the motto of a man who juggles between three worlds; the world of IT, the world of cinema and the world of poetry. Born and raised in Goa, Tagore Almeida shuttled between Goa and London to emerge with an ideology of a world united in peace. Tagore’s passion is cinema. He has already scripted two commercial films in India and written, produced and directed a handful of short films, some of which have featured in short film festivals across the world, including the Cannes Short Film Festival. A computer science graduate from the UK who has worked in London, Dubai and Singapore,  he has just completed writing his first novel, is in the pre-production phase of his next short film ‘The Forgiveness’. In this exclusive, he talks of what makes him tick and what drew him to spoken word as a form of poetry – a style which he has exploited eloquently to question the social trauma faced by many with an impactful poem called “Whose Side?”

 

You have an interesting name — Tagore Almeida. Was this something you adopted or was it given to you by your parents?

My late father was initially a journalist and has also authored two books in Konkani back home in Goa. He admired Rabindranath Tagore immensely and felt that if he named his son after the great man, his son too would show signs of great literature. Ooops, let’s not go there!

So, you have started moving towards your father’s expectations! You have taken to words. Now you have started putting your poetry in a format called spoken word and have started putting it on you tube. Can you tell us a little more about this form? Most people use visuals with words but you only use words and no photos Why?

A friend of mine back home encouraged me to get on board spoken word late last year. He was frustrated like most of my friends that I wasn’t doing much with my verses and had been spending a lot of my time writing films. So I finally decided to give it a go, just to test the medium. So I shortlisted twelve of my verses and said I was going to focus on those over the next eighteen months. Read more

Aruna Chakravarti converses on  Tagore Women, Jorasanko, Patriarchal Values and More…

By Mitali Chakravarty

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A versatile woman of arts and letters, acclaimed and celebrated, Aruna Chakravarti’s writing has been acknowledged by awards like Vaitalik Award, Sahitya Akademi  Award and Sarat Puraskar. Chakravarti talks of interactions with greats like writer Sunil Gangopadhyay and actress Sharmila Tagore to discuss her books and translations in festivals. Her books are often a protest against social ills which linger beyond the past. Her first novel  The Inheritors ( 2004, Penguin)  was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and her third, Jorasanko ( 2013, Harper Collins) received critical acclaim and also became a best seller. Daughters of Jorasanko ( 2016), a sequel to Jorasanko, has sold widely and received rave reviews.  Her translated works include an anthology of songs from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitabitaan, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s Srikanta (which won her the Sahitya Akademi Award) and Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Those days, First Light and Primal Woman: Stories. Chakravarti was the  Principal of a prestigious women’s college of Delhi University for ten years. She is an academic, creative writer and translator with fourteen published books — three novels, one book of short stories, two academic works and eight translations.

22fa274f-4a0d-4c09-8935-35685fae7e7eChakravarti’s latest work, a novel titled Suralakshmi Villa, published by Pan Macmillan this year, will be her fifteenth book. The launch scheduled for 25th February, 2020, in Delhi’s  India International Centre will have a panel discussion on the book by eminent academics for half-an-hour followed by a multi-media presentation of an excerpt from the book created by the author herself. In this exclusive, Chakravarti talks of why and how she writes and more.

 

Since when have you been writing? What inspires you to write?

I used to write prolifically as a child. Poems and stories would pour out of me in a joyous, unthinking stream and I loved the feeling it gave me.

Things changed when, after joining the English Honours course in college, I was introduced to the academics of literature, taught the principles of criticism and how to distinguish good writing from mediocre. I became disillusioned with my work. I found it wanting on so many counts.  I felt I was useless as a writer. Self- criticism is good but, in my case, it verged to the point of negativity.

I stopped writing altogether.

There was a gap of twenty-five years before I picked up the courage to write again.

To answer the second part of your question my juvenilia reflected whatever I was reading at the time, mostly poems and stories written by English writers, and was hugely imitative. But my adult work is derived directly from living experience. It is from the world around me that I draw inspiration. Read more

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