The statements that follow however do not merely articulate the writers' views on their writing but are mostly autobiographical statements about their growing up as writers in their milieu their idea of their mission as writers their sources of influence and inspiration and their craft seen from inside their works. Thus these first person presentations are unique and unavailable elsewhere. Their literary achievements. The talks that follow explore in detail the writers' lives, selves and texts.
Manoranjan Das, the Oriya play Wright, speaks of the growth of his passion for theatre right from his schooldays when he had received public approbation as an actor. The passion grew while, at Ravenshaw College in Cuttack, he got exposed to dramatic literature from all over the world. He drew inspiration from his teacher P. S. Sundaram and the pioneering playwright, Kali Charan Patnaik. Manoranjan Das and his friends organised their own theatre group. His play August Na with its radical message staged three days before India became independent received wide appreciation. While in Delhi he began to write plays based on the history of Orissa. His plays were ever informed by an awareness of contemporary society that perpetuated diverse forms of domination dependence discrimination and inequality.
M. Mukundan, a pioneer of modern fiction in Malayalam introduces himself as internally an turbulent person despite his external calm. His sea-side village and traumatic childhood have had profound impact on his writing. He was a sick child almost a prisoner at home painfully watching other children play. That was his first acquaintance with a Kafkaesque world of terror and suffering. Mahe, his native place was a French colony then: he has seen the colonial as well as the free Mahe and observed its transformation closely. His world was also a world of myth presided over by a god who rode a dog, ate fish and drank arrack. He started imagining stories as a boy though he wrote his first story only when he was fifteen. His sister said he would be a great writer: he prefers the sky reflected in a puddle to the blue infinity above. He loves small things small gods small places. He also learnt the art of inequality in society. Marx fascinated him briefly and then it was the turn of Sartre with his discourses on choice freedom and responsibility. "Satre gave me an opportunity to declare myself a god not the dressed up and ornate Lord Rama, but a humble local deity going around sitting on a dog's back". As he grew wise he gave up all conscious ideological attitudes even while taking an interest in all human issues like the rise of religious fundamentalism, patriarchal exploitation and environmental degradation but the writer voices these concerns in his /her own subtle way not through sloganeering. Writing has never been easy to him; the initial excitement soon gives way to the anguished struggle for the right word. He wants to innovate trying out new themes and structures in each of his novels and short stories. Arts as widely different as Picasso's cubist paintings and Kerala's percussion have left their mark on his prose. He is a dreamer but one who longs to dream with his people.
These first person statements by some of the most innovative writers of India I hope will evoke* genuine interest among the readers of Indian literature everywhere as they provide rare insights not only into their specific works but into creative process in general as well.
is a rare collection of first person accounts by 15 major Indian authors presented during the 'Meet the Author' series organised by the Sahitya Akademi in collaboration with the India International Centre, New Delhi. The authors are Nayantara Sahgal (English), Kamala Das (English and Malayalam), V. K. Gokak Girish Karnad(Kannada) Sombhu Mitra, Nabaneeta Dev Sen (Bengali) Amritlal Nagar, Amrit Rai (Hindi) Thaakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, O. N. V. Kurup, M. Mukundan (Malayalam), Manoranjan Das J.P. Das (Oriya), Amrita Pritam (Punjabi) and Indira Parthasarathi (Tamil). Here they speak frankly and deeply about their childhood environment influences on their writing their individual works in many cases samples of their work have also been given. A unique reading experience. A sure read for all lovers of literature a source book for students and teachers and a must for libraries.
K. Satchidanandan (b.1946) eminent Malayalam poet, bilingual critic, translator and editor has authored 20 collections of poetry, 2 plays, 18 books of literary theory and criticism, and 3 travelogues besides 15 collections of translations of world poetry in 14 language including English French Bhilwara Award from Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Calcutta Gangadhar Meher National Poetry Award from Sambalpur University, Orissa and Bapureddy National Award from Andhra Pradesh Besides Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award (for poetry, criticism, drama and travelogue), Kumaran Asan Award, Ulloor Award and Vayalar Award from Kerala as well as Bahrain and Oman Cultural Centre Awards. He has also won Sreekant Varma Fellowship from Department of Culture Government of India. He has authored and edited several books in English and Malayalam and represented India in several international literary events in France Germany Italy the Netherlands Sweden, USA, Russia, China, Syria, Pakistan and the Gulf countries. A professor of English literature, he is at present the Secretary of the Sahitya Akademi (National Academy of Letters, India).
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