Monday, April 11, 2011

Celebration of Indian Writing...

One event that we are really looking forward to having at our Festival is called Voices From India and the Diaspora, part of the 2011 Blue Metropolis Celebration of Indian Writing.

Picture it: CBC Writers and Company host Eleanor Wachtel on stage with Amitav Ghosh, Bharati Mukherjee, and K. Satchidanandan, talking about what Indian literature today MEANS and where it's going. What does it mean to be an "Indian writer" today, particularly since two of the three writers named above live (at least part of the year) in the US?

Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh is one of North America's most well-respected modern novelists. His 2008 book Sea of Poppies is a powerful story set just before the onset of the Opium Wars in India and contains a motley cast of characters: from a poor uneducated rural housewife on the run and her simple peasant lover, to a French orphan, to an English upstart and sailor.   The first book of a planned trilogy (the second installment, River of Smoke, is due to be released by Penguin-Canada in the summer), Ghosh's writing is full of beauty, skill, and a pure and simple love of language. Indeed, Ghosh's play with words makes it clear that he is, even more than most writers, a wordsmith with a stunning amount of knowledge about the history of various languages. Yet in the end, despite his skill, Sea of Poppies is simply a good story, something many writers' works could benefit from. Short-listed for the Booker Prize, it is one of the most memorable novels I read in preparation for this Festival and I am already planning to read it again...

Bharati Mukherjee
Bharati Mukherjee has lived in North America for much of her career, in Montreal and Toronto and now in Berkeley, California. She has written several novels, three collections of short stories, and a number of journalistic pieces and books. Her latest work, Miss New India (set for release in May), traces the life of a modern young woman in India's new technologically oriented society. In a starred review, Booklist said of Miss New India, "Each character fascinates, and every detail glints with irony and intent, as Mukherjee brilliantly choreographs her compelling protagonist's struggles against betrayal, violence, and corruption in a dazzling plot."

K. Satchidanandan is one of India's most well-respected and prolific poets and editors. His new work, While I Write, is a stunning collection of pieces which demonstrate his accute and sharp view of human nature.

With CBC's Eleanor Wachtel, one of North America's most well-respected arts journalists (and literary interviewers), the conversation is sure to be a fascinating and enlightening one. Don't miss it--tickets for this one are selling fast.

Eleanor Wachtel

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