Sunday, October 11, 2009

The sessions I attended on Saturday at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival left the overt political sessions behind and it was a much more literary day.

A panel on "Writing the Sub-Continent" featured Vikas Swarup, (pic left), author of Q&A, Mohammed Hanif, who also attended the Auckland Readers &Writers Festival earlier this year and is the author of "A Case of Exploding Mangoes, and Sushma Joshi, a short story writer, essayist, and documentary maker from Nepal. The first questions asked about place and sub-continent as characters within their fiction, but somewhat surprisingly, especially given the importance of place in all their works, they professed that the settings were mostly incidental, and the plot itself the only consideration.

The sense given was because of the richness of the sub-continent's literary heritage (although Nepal has very few writers working in English) and its size, the sub-continent has the ability to accommodate a multitude of writers and stories. For this reason the need to write specifically "aout the country was t seen as necessary by these writers.
Mohammed Hanif' young son professed his satisfaction with the festival following this session, as he had now seen someone famous -the author of Slumdog Millionare.

The huge scope and sheer number of events around the clock had begun to take its toll by Saturday afternoon, with not just audience numbers down from the first two days but also some of the writers failing to show up for their sessions. However this did not adversely affect the sessions as those who did participate remained enthusiastic and thoughtful about their topics.
Interplay: Words, Music and Pictures featured Asitha Amereskere, a writer and filmmaker from Sri Lanka and the UK, and Hari Kunzru, from the UK, in conversation with Vinita Ramani Mohan. It touched on the differences between written and visual languages, how a book is a complete entity but a screenplay is just one part of a much larger process and how music and soundscapes affect how we experience life. The session was a more modern take, with younger participants, on the different forms writers can choose to express their story in this age of new media with so many options.

1 comment:

Sushma Joshi said...

Hi Beattie, I was surprised to find your blog post and to read that the writers commented that place was not important in their work. I would like to clarify that all three of us said different things and had different takes on our writing process... I do not subscribe to the ethos that place is not important to my writing, especially since all my writing is about Nepal, and it plays a very central part in whatever I write! Thanks again for giving me the chance to comment... warm regards, Sushma Joshi
Kathmandu, Nepal