Tag Archives: Rituparna Mahapatra

“It’s easy to be seduced by a story, to be persuaded that what you are hearing is true.”- Avni Doshi

Rituparna Mahapatra in conversation with Avni Doshi talking about her journey, the writing process and the future plans.

Photo credit: Sharon Haridas

The first sentence came to me as a revelation, within it was the shape of the whole story. I wanted to begin with something powerful!

Avni Doshi, writer of Indian Origin, longlisted for Booker 2020.

Not many can claim their debut novels to make it to the list of the World’s most prestigious literary awards. Dubai based Indian novelist Avni Doshi has done that; her debut novel ‘Burnt Sugar’ has been long-listed for the 2020 Booker prize. The novel made it to the ‘Booker Dozen’ after judges assessed 162 novels, published in the UK  or Ireland between October2019 and September 2020. 

Burnt Sugar’  was earlier released in India under the title ‘Girl in White Cotton‘ to critical acclaim. The judges at the Booker panel called it an “‘utterly compelling read’ that examines a complex and unusual mother- daughter relationship with honest , unflinching realism” it is “emotionally wrenching but also cathartic, written with poignancy and memorability”. 

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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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Arundhathi Subramaniam unfolds her spiritual journey with Sadhguru

Rituparna Mahapatra in conversation with Arundhathi Subramaniam in the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature

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The brochure at the prestigious Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature held in Dubai from 4th -9th february described Arundhathi Subramaniam as one of the finest poets writing in India today. She was one amongst many internationally acclaimed authors invited to the festival such as Mitch Albom, Jo Nesbo, Markus Zusak, Jokha Alharthi (Man International Booker winner 2019).

Widely translated and anthologized, Subramaniam’s collection When God is a traveller was shortlisted for the T.S Eliot Prize. Popularly known as the biographer of the mystic Sadhguru, her book on him,  Sadhguru: More than a life, went on to be a bestseller. Her other bestselling books include The Book of Buddha and Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga (co-authored with Sadhguru).

She recently edited the acclaimed Penguin anthology of sacred poetry, Eating God. Recipient of many awards and fellowships, she has donned many creative roles as poet, critic, editor, and curator.

In an exclusive interview, the very eloquent Subramaniam spoke about her personal spiritual quest, her passion for literature around the sacred; her love for poetry, performing arts, God and what does Bhakti* poetry explore.

 

You are one of India’s finest poets. When did you start writing poetry?

I have been writing poetry if we may call it that, from a very young age, maybe since I was six or seven years. As a child, I loved the music, the rhythm in poetry. My earliest encounters being nursery rhymes and I got hooked to it. I grew up in Bombay where I did my BA in English Literature at St Xavier’s college, and subsequently my MA at the University of Mumbai. Those years were important learning years for me since I learnt about the craft from gifted teachers. After that came my years of association with the Poetry Circle of Bombay, which gave me an opportunity to be with people who were equally smitten with poetry and learn from them. It was there I understood that writing poetry as a craft required rigorous discipline. It was here that I met fellow poets like Menka Shivdasani, Jerry Pinto, Ranjit Hoskote and many others, who kept my inquisitiveness alive and nurtured it. The first poem which may be called a poem was titled ‘Amoeba’, which I wrote when I was around 19. It went into my first book, On Cleaning Bookshelves (2001).

51WNPe-6mpL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Though poetry is your forte, it’s your prose, the book on Sadhguru, More than a Life, published by Penguin, which was widely acclaimed, and it went on to be a bestseller. Jerry Pinto said of that book, “Nothing less than a thriller. After the first page, I couldn’t put it down“. Tell us, what made you choose to write this book? How did it happen, Did it come naturally to you or was it a conscious effort?

Thank you for asking this question. It was in 2004 May, that I first heard Sadhguru speak in a Mumbai auditorium. I had gone there with many misgivings. I had many years of active spiritual quest and one part of me was actively seeking guidance and another part of me was resisting it, all the time. I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the notion of a ‘Guide’, I have a problem with hierarchies. So, I went to it with curiosity and resistance, but the talk itself was the turning point. Read more

Writing Matters: In conversation with William Dalrymple

By Rituparna Mahapatra

William Dalrymple

Historian, art curator, travel writer, broadcaster, photographer and one of the co-founders and co-directors of the Jaipur Literature Festival – William Dalrymple wears many hats. Born and brought up in Scotland and educated in England, he made India his home, driven by his love for the country and its history.

William Dalrymple was one of the guest authors at the 10th commemorative year of Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, 2018, Dubai. Beaming smile in place, Dalrymple spoke to a full house, the audience in rapt attention as he unfolded the story of the ‘Kohinoor’ diamond, a story that he narrates in his latest book by the same name, co-authored with Anita Anand.

In conversation with Rituparna Mahapatra at the Emirates Airline Literature Festival 2018, he speaks about his love for India, his travel stories, his passion for history, his current book and his family.
The first thing that strikes you about William Dalrymple is his affable laugh. He wanted to be an archaeologist digging ruins in Iraq; it was chance that he accompanied his friend to India and could never really get himself to go back, he laughs and says.

Rituparna: You have many laurels – historian, art curator, writer… how would you primarily describe yourself?

William Dalrymple: I am a writer.  Most of my life comes under that heading, and that is the work I do most days. It encompasses all my other roles. The other stuff that I do, like running the Jaipur Literature Festival or my photography is a lovely diversion. But on this, no question in my head – I am a writer.

Rituparna: You have pioneered the non-fictional narrative storytelling. Is there a particular method, a sort of regime to your writing?

Dalrymple: Very much so.

Thank you, it’s very sweet of you to say I have pioneered non-fictional narrative storytelling, but I think I have only pioneered it within the Indian context. The kind of books I write is very common among my contemporaries where I come from in Britain, and that is the biographical narrative British history, which is the traditional way of writing history. But in India, so much of history is academic history. With my sociological takes on history, people here were slightly ruffled by what I am doing. They thought, am I writing a novel? No, I am not writing a novel; I am writing non-fiction, but I am writing it in a narrative form. And it is all based on historical facts.

Coming to my regime, yes I follow a particular method while working on a book. It is typically a cycle of three to four years, sometimes more. The current East India Company book that I am working on would take around four to five years.  The first year, when I go on a book tour from the last book, I begin thinking about what I am going to do next. I start to look for ideas, track the right people, find archives, and by the end of the year, am finally settled on the subject of the book. Then, I start reading on what has already been written on the subject. That’s the most beautiful part of the cycle because you are just sitting by the pool, reading books on the subject of your interest.  Then gradually the pressure builds up, and then I begin looking at archives, and that is more like serious work, which means you could be at some Government archives maybe in Kabul, in Lahore or New Delhi. Then comes the writing itself, which usually happens in year three or four. That’s the final invest, getting up early… getting fit, dieting a bit.., not going out too much. This phase is more like doing an exam.

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Kitaab appoints editors-at-large for Bangladesh and Dubai

Farah Ghuznavi

Farah Ghuznavi

Kitaab is delighted to announce two new names to its growing list of international editors. Well-known Dhaka-based writer Farah Ghuznavi joins Team Kitaab as the country editor (Editor-at-large) for Bangladesh and Rituparna Mahapatra joins the team as Editor-at-lage for Dubai.

Farah Ghuznavi is a writer and newspaper columnist, with a background in development work in Asia and Africa. She remains an unrepentant idealist despite the existence of empirical evidence that suggests it might be better to think otherwise. Her work has been widely-anthologised in Europe, Asia and North America. Her story “Judgement Day” was Highly Commended in the Commonwealth Competition 2010, and “Getting There” placed second in the Oxford University GEF Competition. In 2013, Farah published her first short story collection, Fragments of Riversong (Daily Star Books, Bangladesh). The book has been well-received by the global literary community. In 2012, she edited Lifelines, an anthology of Bangladeshi writing for the Indian publisher, Zubaan Books. Having completed a stint as Writer in Residence with Commonwealth Writers in 2013, Farah has written a number of essays and advice columns on writing.

“I am delighted to be Bangladesh Country Editor for Kitaab, and the opportunity is meaningful to me for a variety of reasons,” she said in a statement. “Not just because it is an honour to be part of a team that includes colleagues like Amitava Kumar and my friend Anees Salim, but also because Kitaab has a vision – and a clear plan – for what it aims to do in order to bring the work of Asian writers to a wider audience. Its focus on originality and literary merit rather than the ‘marketability’ in the selection of projects means that Kitaab is providing a much-needed space for writers to explore their potential without feeling the pressure to conform to what is expected of them.”

“For me, the indicators that Kitaab is living up to its commitments include its focus on the area of short story writing, which continues to be astonishingly neglected by many traditional publishers, and its willingness to create a space for authors to raise the issues that are of concern to them,” Farah added. “The Kitaab website also provides an excellent free resource for readers and writers to access quality content on a variety of themes. I look forward to contributing to that rich tapestry in the time ahead.”

Rituparna Mahapatra

Rituparna Mahapatra

Rituparna Mahapatra is a writer and educator from Orissa, India.  She taught English literature at Sambalpur University and Delhi University. Driven by her love for writing, she gave up teaching and freelanced for various publishing houses like The Telegraph, Deccan Herald, before a short stint with Encyclopedia Britannica India.  A movie enthusiast, and a voracious reader, she loves nature walks in her free time  and aspires to be a singer among other things. Cooking for her family and friends is an added passion. Mother of two kids, she takes utmost pride in being called ‘Mom’. Currently, she lives in Dubai with her dog and family.

“I am excited about this opportunity,” she said. “I am looking forward to work with the distinguished members of Team Kitaab.”