THE SECOND day of the Chandigarh Literature Festival, being held at Panjab University, began with a session on Kiran Nagarkar’s novel, Jasoda. Critic Sreenivasan Jain questioned the prolific writer about the craft of writing and Nagarkar said he feels that Indian writers give excessive importance to research, but while writing a novel, imagination comes first. The 75-year-old author has penned Jasoda, the story of how a woman negotiates poverty as well as patriarchy. “There were degrees of poverty and Jasoda belonged to the bottom. Yet, this incredible heroine survives,” said Nagarkar.
The highlight of the day was ‘Qissebaazi’, a multilingual storytelling project of the Hoshruba Repertory. ‘Qissebazzi’ expands and builds upon traditional storytelling. A multilingual platform with multiple performers, it is a theatrical presentation, yet distinctively storytelling and was performed by Danish Hussain and Manu Sikander Dhingra. Hindi poet Manglesh Dabral was seen in discussion with critic Asad Zaidi on his book, Naye Yug Mein Shatru.
The session of critic Rakesh Sharma with author Nidhi Dugar on her book, Lost Generation, brought to light the myriad professions which were indispensable in the past, but are losing out in the new world. Lost Generation was a work of mourning for a world that would eventually die. From Godna artists to Rudaalis, there was a whole class of people who had been relegated to the margin due to the changes sweeping the world. “The attempts to interview the practitioners of the now-neglected professions were, no doubt, fraught with difficulties,” said the author.
Until the Lions written by Kartika Nair is based on the great Indian epic Mahabharata, which the author has told through multiple voices. Nair was seen in conversation about her book with critic Annie Zaidi, who is also the festival director. Nair talked about the research involved in the writing of an altogether new Mahabharata, with the book a retelling of the epic from the point of view of characters, who had been hitherto unheard of.
Author Vasudhendra talked about his life and experiences in a candid conversation with Zaidi about his book, Mohanaswamy, a semi-autobiographical work. The book portrays the challenges of being gay in a society like India. “I did not disclose my sexuality to anyone because I thought that concealing it was to my advantage. But this period of denial resulted in depression and the eventual realisation that the solution lies within oneself. Writing enabled me to accept my sexuality. It was society’s problem, not mine,” said Vasudhendra.