It was like before.
The pandemic is over and the Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF) is back with a bang. “Are you going? Shall we meet there?” asked a writer friend.
I was not invited, I shyly admitted. He then said that he had received an invitation to the publisher’s party at the festival anyway, in order to regain his lost fame.
However, Kolkata’s season has also kicked off with a string of literary festivals. There were books to read, writers to interview, dinners to attend. In the tangled skein of anxiety that is a writer’s life, literary festivals offer a booster dose of literary relevance and a way to reassure yourself that your words still mean something. As friends sent me cocktail selfies from Jaipur’s opening party, and my Instagram feed slowly filled with photos of the JLF in action, I’ve been hard at work on my Kolkata reading list. A friend was visiting from out of town. I can’t see you until the festival is over, I said busily. Then I sent him the announcement of my session with the Pulitzer Prize winner.
At that time, another friend forwarded the article Gawker,Title Writers Shouldn’t Talk — Stop Encouraging WritersDo you mean you shouldn’t talk? I asked him Or was I a speaker rather than a writer?
It’s not just that some writers are good talkers and others aren’t. Becca Rothfeld, Contributing Editor boston reviewargue with Gawker Writing and speaking are completely different art forms. “[Writers]are drafters and revisionists, by profession, if not by profession, and in conversation, as if editing in real time, their most powerful statements become cowardly. tend, ”he writes Rothfeld. In fact, she argues that writing is “the antidote to the immediacy and imprecision of speech.” That’s why she insisted, she says. He said, “I think like a genius, write like a famous writer, and speak like a child.”
Conversation is like tennis, but writing is a solitary sport. Some, like Shashi Tharoor and Javed Akhtar, enjoy both and interact with their interlocutors, and he delivers tweetable quotes for a minute to get the audience on their feet. They understand their role as writers and performers. Some writers are drowsy, wandering tangents that lead to several dead ends while forgotten questions are lost in the digression and mournfully limped.
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I once saw the moderator turn slightly pale as the first guest answered the first question and began a 14-minute monologue while the other panelists looked at each other nervously. Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Shawnglia shared a polar opposite story at this year’s Tatastir Her Kolkata Literary Convention session. He once had to interview the great Stephen King on stage. “So he came and sat there and didn’t say a word for an hour and a half. ‘,” Greer said.
Rothfeld has a point. The writer, whose words shine with Lapidalist precision, is at a loss on stage, unable to utter a word, humming, humming, grunting, and speaking endless monologues. It may appear that It’s not their fault. What you see on the page is the finished product after so many painstaking drafts. What we see onstage is the first draft, messy, cluttered, half-baked, and served to the audience without a DEL button.
Nobel laureate JM Coetzee will be on Rothfeld’s side in court. In 2011, a reclusive writer appeared in Jaipur. He took no questions from the audience and had no interaction with the media. He told his audience, like most people, that he had opinions, but he didn’t find them particularly interesting, so he turned the 45-minute session into reading his 45-minute story. decided to spend. old woman and catIt was like listening to an audiobook by Coetzee.
At the end of the session, hapless host Patrick French, who spent those 45 minutes doing nothing else and sipping water, said: You silenced the Indian audience for 45 minutes. ”
I was not in Jaipur that year. But when I went the next year, another writer was making headlines for not speaking out, but in a completely different context. was canceled due to Rushdie is talkative and willing to talk, unlike Coetzee. In his case, however, it was not the verbal gaffe that endangered him, but the unedited speech, so to speak. It was the written word. Decades after writing those words, it was at a literary festival in upstate New York that he faced a terrifying attack last year.
Rather than talking about the book he just wrote, the writing process, the heroes of writing, the state of the nation, the state of the planet, the favorite restaurant in which city, the writer returns to the question of should he just write. Did you come in by chance? Many lament that in the age of social media, writers are judged by their Twitter followings rather than their book content.
There is an argument that the literary festival plays the author’s monkey. But Lightfest is as much a place for dialogue as it is for people asking for autographs. Seeing someone fumbling nervously with questions posed to Booker’s winner is an indescribable emotion. It’s also unspeakably sad to see someone’s writing idol fall from grace for being seen as arrogant and aloof on stage.
Lightfest may look like a seductive bubble of self-delusion in which the writers act as entertainers and drink sula, but in reality, the federal government “lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset.” The BBC documentary has been blocked because it calls it a “propaganda work”. Two opposition parliamentarians defiantly shared a link to the documentary, one of whom said, “I’m sorry you are not elected to represent the world’s greatest censorship-accepting democracy.” I am tweeting.
Oddly enough, it all carries echoes of 2011’s Jaipur. devil’s poem It’s an act of solidarity, an act of everyone getting caught up in more legal hot water.
So writers are sometimes accused of speaking and accused of not speaking. We can’t all share the story of the old woman and the cat because the 24/7 news cycle can put free speech at risk. On the other hand, perhaps ironically, an impromptu statement can sound very different when tweeted out of context. Next thing you know, angry protesters are picketing at a literature festival.
That is the danger of dialogue. But all we have is dialogue. A few years ago, I remembered a literary festival in Kolkata where Imran Khan was a guest. Not because his VVIP of Pakistan was in town, but because of a brief blackout in the auditorium. Not everyone agreed with everything he said, but nobody thought it strange that he was there.
Conversation was still going on.
Hatam Shud, Rushdie’s antagonist Harun and the Sea of Stories, “Even language itself is the arch-enemy of all stories. He is the prince of silence and the enemy of speech.” , Some write and speak. Then someone in the audience raises their hand to tell the writer that they have two comments and a question.
We roll our eyes, but I like to think that as long as that hand goes up, there’s still hope.
Cult Friction is a bi-weekly column about problems we face all the time. Sandip Roy is a writer, journalist and radio host.
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