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
Faramerz 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.
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.
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.