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Across the Great Wall

They are two powerful civilisations,separated by a border,yet it is a rare occasion when contemporary writers from India and China meet to exchange notes.

Written by Dipanita Nath |
February 9, 2009 12:16:21 am

They are two powerful civilisations,separated by a border,yet it is a rare occasion when contemporary writers from India and China meet to exchange notes. Now,the web journal Almost Island (almostisland.com) brings together Indian and Chinese writers at a dialogue at the India International Centre. “Now,we can go from knowing almost nothing about their moderns to knowing something,” says poet Kunwar Narain,who will be part of the session.

The Chinese writers will be led by poet in exile Bei Dao (above),and include poets Xi Chuan,Ouyang Jianghe and Zhai Yongming,fiction writer Ge Fei and critic Li Tuo. “These contemporary writers are not mass-market but deeply serious. I am looking forward to hearing Ge Fei for his avant-garde style,” says Sharmistha Mohanty,editor of Almost Island. The Indian group will have Malayalam poet K Satchidanandan,Hindi poet Vinod Kumar Shukla and Bengali poet Joy Goswami apart from Rukmini Bhaya Nair,I.A. Sealy and Ashis Nandy. They will discuss the different vocabulary of modernist writings in both countries. “The interactions we have with our Chinese counterparts in a formal setting are organised by our governments. We seldom see the real contemporary face of Chinese literature because writers who are not spokespersons of the state are seldom part of their official delegation,” says Satchidanandan, adding that he is hopeful about what he considers “India’s first unofficial yet formal literary meet between India and China”.

The dialogue is on from February 12 to 15. Contact ashwinibhat00@yahoo.co.in

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