Literally Speaking

Literally Speaking

Words and views shared a common platform at the just concluded Chandigarh Literature Festival

THE amalgamation of literature,music,poetry and films added a new dimension to the term “literature festival” at the three-day Chandigarh Literature Festival (CLF) 2013. Organised by Adab Foundation at the Taj Chandigarh,the festival concluded on Sunday evening,with plans to be back next November with more energy and substance. With engrossing sessions, panel discussions touching upon literature,politics and society, critics and authors came on one platform to talk about books,writing and the changing face of Indian literary world.

The concluding sessions of the festival included an absorbing one with critic Nirupama Dutt chatting with author Jerry Pinto on his prize-winning novel Em and the Big Hoom (Aleph Book Company). “I like playing with words,” said Pinto. A family story and a first-person narrative,the novel is set in a one-bedroom flat in Mumbai,and is the story of a mentally unstable mother (Em) and mentally stable father (the Big Hoom),seen from the perspective of their growing son,the narrator himself.

The session focused on the craft of writing a novel,with Pinto saying that he never lets facts stand in the way of a good story. “Love makes us vulnerable and Em is 95 per cent fact and the rest fiction,with 2.5 per cent being the intersection where the reader stands,” said Pinto. Artistic,aesthetic truth is different from realistic truth and distilling is what fiction does,he said,adding that humour is integral to a book — precisely why you laugh with M

but never at her.

Wit,humour,pathos,fear,past,present and future came together on one platform as critic Deepanjana Pal set the pace for an engrossing conversation with author Shovon Chowdhury on his book The Competent Authority (Aleph Book Company) in another session on the day.


The dystopic novel took Chowdhury,a Delhi-based humourist,11 years to write,and he said that current news,events,people,politics and the patience to notice things in detail made it happen. The Competent Authority is about the head of the Civil Services of India who operates from New Delhi. He is deranged and has grand notions about himself.

“I wrote the novel about six times and then revised it. It was late in the process that some

kind of hero emerged and in this case it’s 11-year-old Pintoo,who

is bestowed with superpowers,” said Chowdhury.