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My book of the year: Smritichitre. By Jerry Pinto

Smritichitre by Lakshmibai Tilak is the gold standard of autobiographical writing in India. You will notice I do not say that it is the gold standard for autobiographical writing in Marathi, or for women’s writing. I’m saying this is the real thing and we must all be grateful to Shanta Gokhale that she has finally given us the whole book.

How does it happen that a woman born a hundred years ago is able to speak to me directly, as if she is sitting next to me and telling me a story on a sun-baked afternoon in Nashik?

The first and most obvious one is that she was the kind of writer who understood without even thinking about it that there was grace to be found in simplicity. This was the time when people began their stories in all kinds of decorative and ornamental ways. They talked about the glory of their land and the beneficence of their deities.

Lakshmibai starts in medias res. She plunges straight into her story but like a good journalist, she warns us. These are stories that I heard, these are things I was told, she tells us. And then she draws a wonderfully detail-rich pen-picture of her father.

Crisp, interesting

His father-in-law was hanged in the Revolt of 1857 and this must have unhinged his mind and brought on a fit of purity that lasted for the next 27 years. In this country, where it is almost impossible to get anyone to talk about their parents without eulogies, paeans and glowing, no, flaming tributes, this crisp assessment is startling.

It only gets better, because Lakshmibai was to lead an ‘interesting’ life, the kind the Chinese wish on their enemies. She was married young to one Narayan Waman Tilak, a poet whose works are still on the lips of school children all over Maharashtra.

Vandana Mishra, the actor, says in her memoir, I, The Salt Doll: “In the fourth standard we learned Reverend Na Va Tilak’s Kshanokshani Pade (Falling All the Time). Our teacher recited it through a veil of tears. The girls were crying too. I thought of my mother and I missed her and cried all the harder. The teacher tried to console me. It was a heartwarming sight.”

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India: Pune to host first Marathi e-authors Sammelan

By Partha Sarathi Biswas

Over the last few years, a large number of bloggers, social media influencers and other authors have emerged who use the Marathi language. Aiming to bridge the gap between the virtual and real world, e-book platform bookhungama.com has organised the first ever literary meet — called Nukkad Sammelan — exclusively for such writers, and it will be held in Pune. Vikram Bhagawat, co-founder of bookhungama.com, said a need was felt for this interaction so as to enable them to chalk out the future course of the genre. “These authors have a cult following and act as agents of change on the various platform they are active on. While these authors do interact among themselves virtually, a real meeting was felt necessary,” he said.

The emergence of social media, Bhagawat said, had given rise to newer forms of writing, which has made its effect felt. Facebook in particular has helped democratise literature while the e-book format has helped many budding authors to publish their own work. “The journey of bookhungama.com had in fact started from a Facebook page. We had started a page about the letters which we never got about writing and asked people to contribute to it. Now, that page has more than 76,000 ‘likes’,” he said. Similarly the Nukkad blog, another initiative of the team, is a platform for people to write short and very short stories. Read more

Source: The Indian Express


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70 Authors from 15 languages to attend second edition of LIC Gateway LitFest in Mumbai on February 20-21

Following its thumping success in the inaugural year, the second edition of the LIC Gateway LitFest, India’s only platform to celebrate writings in Indian languages at the national level, will be held at NCPA, Mumbai on February 20 and 21, with a wider canvas of 70 writers representing 15 languages. 

This year’s event will line up a number of top writers including several Jnanpith laureates, Sahitya Academy awardees and budding writers from across India to discuss and debate the contemporary regional literature landscape.  

Jnanpith awardees such as Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade, Hindi poet Kedarnath Singh, Odia writers Pratibha Rayand Sitakant Mahapatra will be sharing the same dais.

“We received an overwhelming response to the first edition of this unique initiative from the literary fraternity. The need to create a powerful platform for regional literature and writers in a largely English language-dominated milieu found wide resonance with the readers and writers alike. We intend to make this a people’s movement with the inclusion of new programme formats and wider participation of regional literature lovers,” said Festival Director Mohan Kakkanadan.

The event, jointly held by Mumbai-based Malayalam publication Kaakka and communication agency Passion4communication (P4C), has been conceived to put the regional writings on the same pedestal along with Indian writings in English that is hogging the limelight mostly across the literary events.

“The effort is to bring together the writers from different Indian languages at the national level to promote co-existence and co-growth which is vital for preserving our national labyrinth of diversity in linguistics,” said festival Executive Director M Sabarinath. Continue reading


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Marathi: the Indian Language in Focus at HLF 2016

HLF 2016-LogoHLF pays special attention to one Indian language at each edition of the festival. This feature was introduced at the third edition of the festival in 2013 and Telugu, Hindi, and Urdu have been the languages in focus so far. In recognition of the historical links Hyderabad has had with Maharashtra for over three centuries, HLF will spotlight Marathi literature and culture at its sixth edition slated for 7-10 Jan 2016.

A range of events highlighting the richness and vibrancy of Marathi literature, art, and culture and featuring eminent Marathi writers, artistes, and activists are on the cards at HLF 2016.

These include:

  • Panel discussion on Marathi Dalit literature featuring Sharan Kumar Limbale, Urmila Pawar, and Pradnya Daya Pawar
  • Panel discussion on Marathi theatre with Mohan Agashe, Sushama Deshpande, and Sonali Kulkarni
  • Panel discussion on the Endangered Languages of Maharashtra led by Arun Jakhade
  • A session of Marathi poetry reading anchored by Hemant Divate
  • A presentation on Urmila Pawar’s autobiography Aaydaan by Sushama Deshpande
  • A story-telling and activity session in Marathi by Sandhya Taksale
  • Performance of the play “White Lily and Night Rider” by Sonali Kulkarni and her troupe
  • Performance by eminent flutist Rupak Kulkarni
  • Screening of several award-winning Marathi films
  • Impromptu snatches of Lavani dance.

Entry to HLF is free and open to all!


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‘The author can only build half a bridge’: Kiran Nagarkar

One of India’s most prolific postcolonial writers on the challenges of penning regional literature: DNA

Kiran NagarkarMost authors wouldn’t stop talking about their work if it had turned 40 and was still up there considered as a milestone in literature. But then novelist, playwright, film and drama critic and screenwriter Kiran Nagarkar has always been different.

Despite being celebrated as one of the most significant writers of post-colonial India, he resorts to self-effacing sarcasm when asked to react to his first book Saat Sakkam Trechalis (SST) turning 40. “The Guinness Book record-worthy success of Saat Saakam Trechalis (Seven Sixes Are Forty-Three), which sold a record 1,000 copies is what comes to mind,” laughs the septuagenarian Mumbai resident whose books are a target of ideological critique due to the hybrid nature of his version of postcolonialism, involving irreverence alongside seriousness.

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