Monday, June 15, 2009

Kriti Festival Follow up

I had a wonderful time at DesiLit's Kriti Festival in Chicago this weekend. It was an event that brought together prestigous writers with up and coming writers, as well as the readers who love South Asian lit. For me, it was an opportunity to meet and be inspired by the other participants. And, were it not for US Airways baggage fees and my husband's warning about buying more books, I would've snatched up every book there!

After going to a number of readings and discussions where "must read" books were mentioned, I'll highlight a few of the books I want to read. (This will serve as my wish list for later)

"Cracking India" by Bapsi Sidwa - So I lied. I read this already. But, it's one that I highly recommend in order to get a better understanding of the India-Pakistan Partition. I'll always remember the profound impact of this book because I was reading it Sept 2001. Even though I had seen the movie "Earth", I suddenly understood how Lenny's world turned upside down in one day and everyone is suspect. As a side note, Bapsi Sidwa is still elegant and poised at her age. And, you have to admire a woman of her generation who talks about reading books on her Kindle!

"The Match" and "Monkfish Moon" by Romesh Gunesekera - He read excerpts from these two books; I'm not familiar with his work, but his writing has a certain charm.

"House for Mr Biswas" by VS Naipaul - Amitava Kumar and Bapsi Sidwa both discussed Naipaul's writing and I know Shashi Tharoor has written a lot about the man. I'm moving Naipaul up a notch on my "to read" list.

"Haunting Bombay" by Shilpa Agarwal - Her story steps away from the typical stories with a twist with ghosts, encompassing the historical and legends.

"Leaving Home" by Minal Hatrajwala - This is a personal account of three generations of her family's journey out of India and into various parts of the world including Fiji, New Zealand, and the US.

"Disobedient Girl" by Ru Freeman - Her book is coming out this summer! I missed my friend Ru's reading, but know this story will bring in the flavors and energy of Sri Lanka in so many contexts.

"Love Marriage" by VV Ganeshananthan - This book also dives into Sri Lanka and focuses on families, making the war more personal and recognizable to the readers.

Poetry by Amit Chaudhuri - Amitava Kumar read some of these poems. I'm pretty sure we have some of his stories on my shelf so I have to make my way to them.

"Meatless Days" by Sara Suleri - Another book that was recommended, and I remember my friend Julie talking about Sara Suleri years ago.

"White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga - OK, I'm not sure what to do about this book. Do I read it because it's been so notable and acclaimed? But some people who have read it have issues with it, so do I read it and end up frustrated? What's the point then? Should I just go read Amitav Ghosh's critique of this book instead?

"Pickwick Papers" by Charles Dickens. Of course we should the classical British writers too.

"Ask Me About My Divorce" anthology by Seal Press. I came across this book today on the web and it includes "Sita's Eyes" by R M Hora (I googled more and confirmed it's Reenita Malhotra Hora). Seems like a powerful collection in general.

Other sites to make note of:

Writing the Lines of Our Hands

Fishouse Poetry

Sita Sings the Blues
(I didn't get to watch this fully, but when I do, y'all will hear about it! It's absolutely creative and beautifully put together!)

On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with other writers and readers. It was refreshing to meet someone and be asked "So, what do you write?" And, then maybe 10 minutes later or even 2 days later, he or she asks "By the way, what do you do for a living?"

I can't remember the last time I was in a bar discussing literature and politics or talking about book covers and writing process over dinner. I found such energy and enthusiasm for the arts. I have two action items from this event. First one is to organize and create a literary community close to home. The "real housewives and husbands" in the 'burbs like to read too! My other take away from this event is that I will focus and finish my short stories. I've been writing poetry because that's what comes to me, and I've been refining my manuscript. It's time to leap out of my comfort zone and write that South Asian vampire cowgirl story that needs to be told.


RuThless said...

Alright, Missy! This is Ru. Thank you for posting the line up. And it serves as a reminder for me, too. I second most of your choices. And I have to say I LOVED Romesh's reading. He has such a soothing, untroubled affect in general and I loved seeing a different person emerge when he read.

Unknown said...

That vampire cowgirl story absolutely needs to be told. Great recap, I feel as galvanized as you do.

Indigo B. said...

Thanks for checking this out!
Ru - so true about the different person emerging during a reading. But isn't that what happens to us when we write - another side comes alive and takes over?

Ankur - I'll send you the first draft. You come up with the cover.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful event, makes me miss working in the publishing industry.

It's funny, I've signed up for a bunch of book clubs on meetup but none of the NY ones seem very active.

Bapsi said...

Dear Ashini

I was touched by your comment about the message in the bottle and i visited your blog. I wished i had seen your blog earlier, because some of the books you mentioned were by the young writers present at the Kriti Fest, and i would of wanted to buy them. I will write to Mary Jane and see if i still can. I gather you are a writer and i wish you good luck.


Thanks for starting your list with "Cracking India".

Ashini said...

Bapsiji, I'm honored that you've taken the time to read my blog. By the way, your book is always on top of my lists!

K. said...

Oh, thank you for this list of reads! I am definitely going to look for some of these...

Jenny Wren said...

Ashini, girl! It's been almost a decade, or so it seems. This is JenWren (if you can recall). Was googling some old pals and just thought I'd try your name. Here's where it brought me. Like the blog and that you've still kept up your writing. I'm just beginning to thaw out of a long freeze and have almost no muscle memory left, it seems.

Good stuff here. Especially like the list of books and will be checking them out.

Will also go to Dancing Leaves in a bit to read through the lit-feast.

All the best.....