Here are five scintillating interviews that capture the magic and the mystery of the world of the Contemporary Indian Writer.
U R Ananatha Murthy
M T Vasudevan Nair
...offer insights into the art and craft of writing.
Share their hopes and fears, and reveal that unique creative urge which makes their work what it is.
Also featured in this volume, the first in the series, is an alluring selection from their writing - fiction and nonfiction.
Essential reading for the browser and the Bookworm!
Envy is a terrible feeling. Only, you can't envy what you have, says
a sane voice inside me. I know I need not and I know Indian writers
are ours to hold and cherish. But much of the genius of our country
lies in regional literatures and, unable to read more than one or two
of these languages or enjoy in the original the specialness of art and
craft that each one of these languages fosters, it is difficult to step
outside our self-deprecation and see our stories for what they are.
When I manage to do this I - to take off from Anna Akhmatova -
finally know what envy really is! Translations are but poor cousins
that strive, often times with a lack of faith in itself and its creations, to
bring the best from this katha-khazana to readers who can't read the
stories in their original language. And, even in reading translations,
we feel the pride and pleasure of coming home to good fiction.
The genesis of this book lies in my deep-felt longing to know more
about our writers and their writings, and the nonavailability of a book
that satisfied this desire. I sincerely thank the five writers who are
featured in this first volume of Wordsmiths, for giving Katha so much
of themselves. Being self-analytical, going over tread ground, is difficult
for all, and especially so for creative minds. We know this and we feel
honoured to have what we have from these five wordsmiths.
The best of Indian writers have always empathized with men and
women from nonliterate backgrounds, they who, unfortunately, still
form a very large portion of our population: These people have a
realization of ground realities that their counterparts from more affluent
families often don't. But being nonliterate and having been given a
colossal lack of confidence in their selves and in their thoughts, they
have, till recently, discounted themselves, their idioms, thoughts,
language. URA and MT work, in one sense, like "insiders" though
they do not come from non-literate families; so too does Bhupen
Khakhar, in his own inimitable way. And women, though we have
been writing for many centuries now, have let ourselves believe that
we face a double handicap - being hesitant users of the written word
and also being ignorant of the "real" world that writers write about.
This is the disquietude that writers like Krishna Sobti and Mahasveta
Devi put to rest, with stories that stand shoulder to shoulder with the
best that men have written. Here, in their own words, we understand
these writers and what drives them, more clearly.
Katha is a registered nonprofit organization whose objectives are
twofold. To bring to a wider readership the best of Indian literature -
both for the common reader and for neo-Iiterate people - and through
translations from one language to another, including English. The
second objective is to develop suitable teaching/learning materials
for children and women who are just starting out on the road to literacy,
using the story for effective communication.
The making of T/L materials has, till now, focussed more on
children, basically working children, neo-Iiterates. But I find that many
of us who have had our formal education in English are neo-Iiterate
when it comes to Indian literature. In 1995, Katha brought out the first
of the Classics, Masti Venkatesa Iyengar, a well-researched book on
that "grand old man" of Kannada literature. This was specifically seen
for possible use in academia. This is a project we are proud of.
Wordsmiths, we hope, will offer the same interest and enriching
experience for readers and students alike.
We also hope that this and the other books of Katha Vilasam, the
story research and resource centre of Katha, will add to efforts already
on for a more sustained dialogue between the various languages that
facilitates a deeper understanding of ourselves as Indians.
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